Cancer Patient Awarded $80 Million in Monsanto Roundup Case
Edwin Hardeman, a California resident, will receive $80 million as part of a court case against agrochemical giant Monsanto. At the end of last March, a six-person jury ruled that Monsanto’s weed killer, Roundup, was “a substantial factor” in Hardeman developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is just the latest in a series of controversies over the popular weed-killer.
Roundup has taken off in the U.S., with over 22 million pounds being used nationwide last year. Everyone from major crop farmers to suburban homeowners use the product, so is there a hidden danger? Read on to learn if Roundup causes cancer and what this court case reveals about how much this corporate giant is covering up.
What Is Monsanto?
You may or may not have heard of Monsanto, the American super-company that has changed the face of the farming industry with their weed killer, Roundup. They were an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company, which basically means they worked to develop genetically modified seeds. In general, GMOs are harmless, but Monsanto began venturing into genetic splicing that was a little scary.
But worse than their GMO work, Monsanto had started to form a stranglehold on the American agricultural economy. They developed and patented seeds that were resistant to Roundup, meaning farmers could spray Roundup on their fields and kill weeds without damaging their crops at all. It became harder for farmers using non-modified seeds to keep up, and Monsanto had the trademark on those modified seeds.
In June of last year, Bayer, a German multinational pharmaceutical company known best for producing aspirin, bought Monsanto for a staggering $63 billion.
About Edwin Hardeman
Edwin Hardeman is a 70-year-old resident of California who owns fifty-six acres of land. In 1986, he started using Roundup to control poison oak, overgrowth, and weeds growing on his property. He continued to use the weed killer until 2012, nearly three decades of use.
In February 2015, Hardeman was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in your body’s disease-fighting systems. He underwent $200,000 worth of medical treatment, with the result that his cancer is currently in remission. About a year after his diagnosis, Hardeman hired the law firm of Andrus Wagstaff to represent him in his case against Monsanto.
Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore represented Hardeman in the trial, which ran from February 25 of this year through March 26. The judge agreed to bifurcate the trial, or split it into two separate trials.
The first part of the trial focused on whether or not Hardeman’s cancer could be linked at all to Roundup. The initial trial found that Roundup was “a substantial factor” in Hardeman’s cancer. The six-person jury delivered the unanimous verdict on March 19.
The second part of the trial, which began on March 20, was to determine if Monsanto could be held liable for Hardeman’s illness. Even with the ruling that Roundup played a big role in Hardeman’s cancer, the jury still had to decide if Monsanto could have provided better warning of the possible consequences of using their product.
Roundup’s Carcinogenic Properties
There has been debate for decades about whether or not Roundup is a carcinogen. And in fairness, there are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. The EPA and many other government regulators have said that there is no link between Roundup and cancer.
But there is some evidence to suggest that Monsanto may have ghostwritten some of the studies that claim that Roundup is harmless. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer also says that the active ingredient in Roundup is a probable carcinogen. And it can’t be ignored that more than one jury has now found Roundup to be a contributing factor to cancer cases.
The second portion of Hardeman’s trial began on March 20 of this year. After an additional week, the same six-person jury found that Monsanto was liable for Hardeman’s illness, and a judge ordered the corporate giant to pay out $78 million in damages. Monsanto is appealing this verdict, saying that the science backs up their case.
“We are disappointed with the jury’s decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic,” said the statement from Bayer. This is in addition to another case, which took place last August, that Monsanto is appealing. The award on that case was initially $278 million, but the judge reduced that award to $80 million as well.
Results of the Case
The biggest impact of this case is likely to show up on the public relations field, not the legal field. From a legal perspective, the verdict from this trial cannot be used as a precedent in other Roundup-related trials. The most difference it will make in the legal field will be helping lawyers to decide whether they’d rather fight these cases in the courtroom or settle them.
But the case may prompt a change in policy from Bayer, who now owns Monsanto and produces Roundup. The agrochemical giant stands behind their product, so they’re unlikely to pull it from the shelves. But we may see warning labels and similar disclaimers beginning to pop up on Roundup bottles.
Edwin Hardeman is not the only person suing Monsanto over a cancer case. As we mentioned before, a case which took place last August also determined that the company was liable for a California groundskeeper’s cancer. He used the weed killer as part of his daily duties and received an award of $80 million from the case, which Monsanto is appealing.
But there are also thousands of similar cases across the country. Hardeman’s was the first to make it to federal court, and not all of these cases will be heard. It will depend largely on how strong the evidence is in their favor and how likely it is that they can successfully prosecute their case.
Did Roundup cause your cancer?
Roundup has become a staple in American agriculture. Chances are, you’ve used it in your own yard or know someone who has. And while the jury is still out (quite literally) on the dangers of Roundup, it may be better to be safe than sorry.
If you’d like to read more about the question of if Roundup causes cancer, check out the rest of our website. We can help you determine if you have a case against Monsanto in minutes. Take our quiz today and start your successful lawsuit.