Bayer loses Roundup lawsuits in Philadelphia, St. Louis  

Lawn mower. (Photo courtesy of Kansas State University Research and Extension.)

A Philadelphia jury awarded $175 million to a retired restaurant owner who claimed he contracted  non–Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup in his garden for years. 

The jury ordered Bayer to pay Ernest Caranci $25 million in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages. A spokesperson for Bayer said the company would appeal and was “confident we can get this unfounded verdict overturned and the excessive damage awards reduced through our appeal.” 

Days earlier, a St. Louis jury awarded $1.25 million to another man who suffered non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup glyphosate-containing herbicide. It was the first loss for Bayer outside of California in the cycle of lawsuits related to Roundup, and it came after a string of nine wins for Bayer. 

Twelve jurors in the Missouri 22nd Judicial Circuit Court unanimously found Bayer-Monsanto liable for John Durnell’s cancer. Nine of the 12 jurors signed the verdict to award limited damages. 

One of the St. Louis law firms that represented Durnell, 67, said he began using the weed killer in 1996 while maintaining his neighborhood grounds for a neighborhood restoration project. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma several years later after discovering a painful knot. 

All of the positive verdicts to date have been for users of Roundup in the lawn and garden sector. Bayer has pledged to remove glyphosate from that sector beginning in 2024 as part of its plan to limit liability and move on, although it’s not clear whether it intends to continue to market a non-glyphosate Roundup-branded product.

After the St. Louis verdict Bayer said in a statement, “The jury’s verdict is mostly in the company’s favor, and we will seek an appeal of the adverse decision on the one count, which relates to product labelling, and which is inconsistent with the conclusions of expert regulators worldwide and preempted by federal law. While we have great sympathy for the plaintiff in this case, we are confident that our products can be used safely and are not carcinogenic, consistent with the assessments of expert regulators worldwide and the weight of the extensive body of scientific evidence from more than four decades of studies.”

An additional Roundup lymphoma trial is underway in San Diego, and two more are scheduled for November in Missouri and California. In the San Diego trial, plaintiff attorneys are pushing for the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its finding that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans. 

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].