Landmark Verdict: Agrochemical Giant Monsanto Hit with $2.25 Billion Punitive Damages in Roundup Cancer Lawsuit

Philadelphia, PA – Agrochemical giant Monsanto was hit with a staggering $2.25 billion verdict, including $2 billion in punitive damages, by a jury in a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he developed cancer after using the company’s weed killer, Roundup. John McKivison, 49, alleged that his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was a result of using Roundup on his property for two decades.

The unanimous verdict, returned by the jury on Friday, concluded that Roundup is a cancer-causing product and that Monsanto was negligent in failing to warn about its dangers. McKivison’s lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, described the outcome as a “condemnation of 50 years of misconduct by Monsanto” and emphasized the need for significant changes within the corporation.

In response to the verdict, Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, stated that it plans to appeal the decision and called the damages “unconstitutionally excessive.” Bayer argued that the jury’s findings contradict the vast majority of scientific evidence and regulatory assessments on the safety of Roundup.

The case revolves around glyphosate, an ingredient introduced as a herbicide by Monsanto in 1974. Glyphosate works by inhibiting a particular enzyme in plants, preventing their growth. Monsanto also developed genetically modified crops resistant to glyphosate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) affirmed in 2020 that when used as directed, glyphosate poses no risks to human health and is unlikely to be a human carcinogen. Similarly, the European Commission stated last year that there is currently no evidence categorizing glyphosate as carcinogenic.

However, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015. Despite Bayer reaching a $10 billion settlement in 2020 with thousands of claimants alleging Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, additional claims have persisted.

Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto, the inventor and producer of Roundup, took place in 2018. The company has seen mixed results in recent courtroom battles, winning a case in California but facing losses in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

The verdict, with its unprecedented punitive damages, serves as a significant blow to Monsanto and highlights the ongoing controversy surrounding the safety of Roundup. As the legal battle continues, the public remains divided on the potential risks associated with glyphosate and whether stricter regulations are necessary to protect consumers.