Bayer faces $2.2. billion verdict  

Summer landscape with green grass field and blue sky

A jury in the Pennsylvania court of Common Pleas ordered Bayer to pay $2.2 billion on Jan. 26. to a man who claimed his lymphoma resulted from use of Bayer’s Roundup herbicide.

John McKivision’s claimed his non-Hodgkins lymphoma came from using Roundup for yard work at his house over a period of several years. The verdict includes $250 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages.

Bayer plans to appeal the verdict, the latest in a string of losses after an earlier string of wins for the chemical company, and the biggest single verdict yet.

In a statement, Bayer said it disagreed “with the jury’s adverse verdict that conflicts with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and worldwide regulatory and scientific assessments, and [we] believe that we have strong arguments on appeal to get this verdict overturned and the unconstitutionally excessive damage award eliminated or reduced.”

Bayer said previous damage awards have been reduced by 90% or more.

Since Bayer paid $63 billion to acquire Monsanto in 2018, about 165,000 claims have been filed in the United States against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup. They have all come from the lawn and garden side of the Roundup business; Bayer has already announced it is discontinuing glyphosate, the effective ingredient in Roundup, from its lawn and garden division, although it remains available to farmers. 

In 2020, Bayer tried to consolidate all its outstanding Roundup cases. It settled most of them for about $9.6 billion but failed to get a settlement covering future cases. More than 50,000 claims remain pending.

Bayer’s legal troubles led its new American CEO to publicly say the company was considering separating out its crop protection business from its other units, but the company has since walked back that speculation, saying only that it is focusing on internal reorganization.

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].