Bayer Loses Second Roundup Cancer Case

Bayer AG (ETR: BAYN) has lost a second case involving allegations that its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer has caused cancer in a user of the product. A U.S. jury ruled unanimously in 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman’s favor after five days of deliberation. The case was overseen by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria. Bayer acquired Monsanto, the longtime maker of Roundup, for $63 billion last year.

According to his attorneys, Hardeman started using Roundup products on his Sonoma County property in the 1980s to treat poison oak and weeds. He continued using the products for decades, until 2012. In 2015, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. His attorneys claimed that his decades-long exposure to the herbicide led him to develop the cancer.

Liability and damages will be decided by the same jury in a second trial phase. Chhabria split the Hardeman case, with one phase to decide causation and the other to determine Bayer’s potential liability and damages. In the second phase, Hardeman’s lawyers will be allowed to present evidence allegedly showing that the company had “bullied” researchers to suppress negative studies about the herbicide, as they claimed during the first phase of the trial.

The decision by the California jury comes roughly eight months after another jury agreed with a plaintiff in a different case over similar claims. Last August, terminal cancer patient Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million in damages after that jury ruled that the company failed to properly warn users of Roundup’s health hazards. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Bayer said in a statement that it was disappointed with the jury’s initial decision. The company has repeatedly denied allegations that glyphosate or Roundup causes cancer. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.