California Couple’s $86 Million Roundup Award Refused Review

The Supreme Court of California rejected Bayer’s petition to review the outcome of the third Roundup weedkiller cancer trial. The trial resulted in a damage award of $86 million to a married couple who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), allegedly from years of exposure to the controversial herbicide that was invented by the Monsanto Corporation.

Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, CA were awarded $2 billion by a jury in Oakland, in May 2019. The jury in the Alameda County Superior Court deliberated for less than two hours before it reached its conclusion. Two months later, Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled that the Pilliods’ award was excessive and reduced it to $86 million.

Bayer AG acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $86 billion. The merger was finalized just one month before the first Roundup trial began. In that trial, which concluded after four weeks, a jury found Monsanto liable for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s cancer. Johnson was awarded $287 million, which was later reduced to $20.5 million.

Monsanto/Bayer AG also lost the second trial, in which a jury awarded plaintiff Edwin Hardeman $80 million in damages. Hardeman's award was also reduced by a judge to $25 million. The Pilliod case was the third Roundup litigation to reach trial.

The fourth Roundup trial started but has yet to conclude. The trial of Donetta Stephens has been conducted via Zoom and has been plagued by many technical difficulties.

Bayer won a Roundup case for the first time in the fifth Roundup trial scheduled. A jury found that not enough evidence was presented to hold Roundup liable for a young boy’s rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

An appellate court upheld the Pilliods’ Superior Court trial win three months ago. The Pilliods claim that they used Roundup for three decades on their properties in California. According to U.S. Right To Know, Alberta was diagnosed with brain cancer caused by NHL in 2015, while her husband was first diagnosed with NHL in 2011. Both Pilliods are currently in remission; however, Alberta has required multiple hospitalizations due to frequent bouts of cancer.

Bayer may seek a U.S. Supreme Court review of the case, arguing that because Roundup labels do not require a warning under federal law, federal law preempts claims filed by the Pilliods and other Roundup plaintiffs.

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