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Monsanto ordered to pay $2 bn in latest Roundup blow

Monsanto ordered to pay $2 bn in latest Roundup blow

A jury in Oakland, California, has awarded a couple $2 billion in punitive damages after concluding that sustained exposure to Monsanto Co.'s popular Roundup weed killer led to their cancer diagnoses.

Bayer's stock price hit an nearly seven-year low Tuesday, in the wake of a third USA jury verdict that found its Roundup weedkiller to be a cause of people's cancer.

Glyphosate, the basic component in Roundup, was found to be the cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in both Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

Her husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 and she was also diagnosed with the cancer in 2015 after they had applied Roundup once a week, nine months out of the year for 30 years on properties they owned.

In March, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80m to another California man after finding Roundup caused his cancer.

The trials were the first of an estimated 13,000 lawsuits against Monsanto.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group said "The cloud hanging over Bayer will only grow bigger and darker, as more juries hear how Monsanto manipulated its own research, colluded with regulators and intimidated scientists to keep secret the cancer risks from glyphosate". Bayer has defended the safety of Roundup's active ingredient glyphosate since inheriting the product from Monsanto. But the judgment is nearly certain to be reduced, given U.S. Supreme Court rulings that cap the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages at 9 to 1.

The jury awarded $2.055 billion to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a northern California couple who had used Roundup weed killer product for 35 years, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

Bayer said it was "disappointed" in the decision and would appeal.

The company noted that none of the California verdicts has been considered by an appeals court and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers the weed killer safe. The company is appealing the two previous verdicts in Roundup cases, and it said it would appeal this verdict as well.

"Clearly we anticipate that much of the punitive damages of $2 billion would likely be significantly reduced on appeal", JP Morgan analysts said in a note. Also, this litigation will take some time before it concludes as no case has been subject to appellate review where key legal rulings in the trials will be assessed. The court didn't propose a ratio it felt correct, but said punitive damages should nearly never exceed nine times actual damages, it said.

Monday's stunning verdict came as Bayer admitted that its subsidiary Monsanto kept lists of high-profile people - for or against pesticides - in France and likely other European countries.

Bayer's management was already in hot water over the wisdom of the Monsanto takeover, with shareholders having effectively told CEO Werner Baumann in a no-confidence vote last month that his job is in jeopardy.

Pillioid says they wish Monsanto had proper labelling on their round up containers for the potential life-altering dangers with using it. The verdict was announced after the trading session closed, AP points out.

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