Big corporations don’t like losing lawsuits because it sets a bad precedent for future suits. Even though technically every lawsuit is tried and judged on its own merits, there is always that lingering cloud that since the company was found culpable in a similar suit, there is a good chance that they are culpable in all other suits that bare the same merits.
That is one of the main reasons why the Roundup lawsuit is a big deal.
About Roundup Herbicide
There have been several cases brought against Monsanto in regard to their Roundup weed killer line of products. Monsanto, a well-known agribusiness giant that was bought by the German giant “Bayer” in June 2018, is facing thousands of lawsuits nationwide. The plaintiffs claim that the Roundup weed killer, or at least one of its ingredients, caused their cancer.
Monsanto, now Bayer AG, produces a glyphosate-based weed killer known as Roundup while the weed killer itself is by all standards effective when it comes to killing weeds, the ingredient used in making it known as glyphosate has been determined to be a bit more dangerous to human beings as well.
In 2015, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), which is a part of the WHO (World Health Organization), classified glyphosate as a possible human carcinogen.
It is virtually impossible to pinpoint a single cause of anyone’s cancer which makes it difficult to logically blame Bayer for the glyphosate cancer. It would cause any reasonable juror to pause and wonder why more than a thousand people are suing the company for their disease.
The cornerstone of these roundup lawsuits is the fact that there are a series of internal Monsanto documents implying that the company knew the glyphosate in their Roundup weed killer was dangerous to human beings as a possible carcinogen but used it anyway.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Settlements
So far, these Roundup cancer lawsuit settlements have come thick and fast and to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Granted, there are over a thousand lawsuits still in the courts over the same issue; there is a good chance that these will not be the last of the Roundup cancer lawsuit settlements to hit the news.
Edwin Hardeman Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Settlement
In California, a 70-year-old man named Edwin Hardeman sued Monsanto claiming that their Roundup weed killer caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The man claimed that he had used Roundup weed killer to control poison oak and weeds on his property for over 26 years. He learned that he had cancer in 2015 and holds Monsanto accountable for not including a warning label on the product saying that it could cause cancer.
A six-person jury awarded Mr Hardeman $80 million in damages. A Roundup verdict which Bayer said it would appeal.
Dewayne Johnson Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Settlement
In yet another lawsuit against Monsanto, a San Francisco jury saw it fit to award Dewayne Johnson $289 million in his case against Roundup weed killer. Dewayne Johnson, much like Edwin Hardeman, claims that he got non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from using Roundup weed killer.
Mr Johnson is a groundskeeper who has been using the weed killer for a number of years now until he learned that the glyphosate in the herbicide could cause cancer in humans and that he has cancer thanks to that fact.
The San Francisco jury awarded Mr Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and another $250 million in punitive damages.
Why These Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Settlements are a Big Deal
These settlements are going into the range of millions of dollars andare a big problem for the company Bayer who now owns Monsanto- who in turn produce the Roundup herbicide. What’s an even bigger problem is the fact that jurors are finding it fit to award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages in these cases.
The thousands of legal claims brought against Roundup qualify as torts – a case that a private party brings against another seeking legal compensation for perceived harm. Tort cases require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant directly caused them harm in one way or another.
Compensatory damages are often awarded if the defendant is found guilty of causing the plaintiff harm. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded when the jury decides that the defendant knowingly caused the plaintiff harm.
For example,say you bought a new car and its brakes failed, thus causing you some kind of injury that resulted in hefty hospital bills, discomfort and loss of income for a while. You can sue the manufacturer of the vehicle for the faulty brakes, and if found guilty, they will be forced to pay you compensatory damages.
However, should it be discovered during the course of the investigations that the manufacturer knew that the brakes were faulty but sold you the car anyway without warning you, they will be forced to pay punitive damages as well.
That is exactly the problem with these Roundup cancer lawsuit settlements. Thanks to the fact that the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) classified glyphosate as a carcinogen in 2015 and that there were internal Monsanto documents implying that the company knew this and still sold the product to the public without a warning label means that they are implicitly responsible for causing Mr Johnson and Mr Hardeman’s cancers.
It also means that all the other pending cases have a firm footing on which to bring a solid argument against Bayer.
Yes, the company can appeal all these cases and tie up the proceedings in court for a number of years, but with each passing moment, Roundup weed killer gets bad press and so does the company.
Not only could they be liable for millions of dollars paid out to thousands of plaintiffs who have a solid case against the company, but they will also lose a huge chunk of their market due to the bad press.
Couple that with the fact that the company now needs to come up with a new weed killer and you have a host of problems that any board of directors would want to avoid at all costs.