Bottles of Roundup, a brand owned by Bayer, are seen for sale in a store in New York City. June 30, 2022.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Bayer has won a trial in a lawsuit brought by a California man who said he developed cancer from exposure to its Roundup weedkiller, ending what had been a five-trial losing streak for the company in trials over similar claims.
The verdict was handed down on Friday by a jury in San Benito County, California Superior Court, Bayer announced. The company said in a statement that the verdict was “consistent with the evidence in this case that Roundup does not cause cancer and is not responsible for the plaintiff’s illness.”
Lawyers for plaintiff Bruce Jones did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Like most plaintiffs in Roundup lawsuits, Jones alleged that the product caused him to develop a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Around 165,000 claims have been made against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018.
Before its recent string of losses, which produced verdicts against the company totaling more than $2 billion, Bayer had won nine consecutive trials, meaning it has now won 10 of the last 15 trials. Further cases are expected to be tried in the coming year.
Bayer is appealing the verdicts against it, which include large punitive damages awards that are likely to be reduced because they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance.
The losses had led some investors to question Bayer’s legal strategy in defending the Roundup cases. The company said last month that it would continue fighting the cases in court and had “no appetite to write humongous checks” to settle them.
In 2020, Bayer settled most of the then-pending Roundup cases for up to $9.6 billion but failed to get a settlement covering future cases. More than 50,000 claims remain pending.