Bayer Faces Another Blow in Roundup Lawsuits with $3.5 Million Verdict

Philadelphia, PA – In the latest legal blow to Bayer, a Philadelphia jury has ordered the company to pay $3.5 million to a woman who alleges that the popular weed killer, Roundup, caused her cancer. This marks the fifth consecutive defeat for Bayer in its ongoing Roundup lawsuits. However, the jury’s award in this case is significantly smaller compared to the previous verdicts in the past two months, which totaled over $2 billion.

The plaintiff, Kelly Martel, claimed that her non-Hodgkin lymphoma was a direct result of her exposure to Roundup. While Martel blamed the weed killer, Bayer argued that her smoking habit was the main cause of her cancer. The jury ultimately sided with Martel in a 10-2 decision. They awarded her $462,500 in compensation and an additional $3 million in punitive damages.

Bayer has quickly announced its intention to appeal the decision, continuing the legal battle that has been plaguing the company. This comes after Bayer had a turn of fate in Roundup lawsuits, initially losing several cases before winning nine consecutive trials and settling others out of court. However, their winning streak came to an abrupt end in October 2023 when they lost five trials in just five weeks.

The controversy surrounding Roundup stems from the classification of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015. This classification prompted a surge in Roundup lawsuits, with plaintiff lawyers initially focusing on glyphosate as the potential cancer-causing chemical. In more recent cases, including the Philadelphia lawsuit, the argument has shifted to the presence of other harmful toxins in Roundup, such as formaldehyde and arsenic, which can allegedly increase the risk of cancer when combined.

Bayer, on the other hand, maintains that Roundup is safe and does not cause cancer. Despite their claims, the mounting legal costs have taken a toll on the company since its acquisition of Roundup manufacturer Monsanto in 2018. Bayer’s market capitalization has plummeted to $33 billion, less than half of what it paid for the acquisition.

To address the ongoing Roundup lawsuits, Bayer has set aside $6.5 billion to cover expected losses. However, there is significant concern among investors that the costs could climb even higher. As of mid-November, there were 4,329 Roundup lawsuits pending against Bayer, with the company estimating a total of 52,000 unresolved claims. In an effort to manage and mitigate the risks, Bayer has implemented a “five-point plan” and hopes to have state-based “failure to warn” laws preempted by federal law through an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Philadelphia jury’s verdict against Bayer serves as a reminder of the legal challenges the company continues to face due to Roundup. The outcome of this case, along with the numerous pending lawsuits, will inevitably have a significant impact on Bayer’s financial situation.