It's not often a big corporation is taken down by just one person, but that seems to be the case this week as a long-running court case came to a close in California. The results of the case were unexpected and may set a precedent for other court cases of it's kind in the state of California and the rest of the United States.
A jury in California made a surprising decision this week when the court ruled that Monsanto, a major agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company, will have to pay a California resident over $80 dollars. The plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman, claimed the company's products gave him cancer and in the end, the jury agreed with him. The product Hardeman says gave him the cancer is the weed killer Round-Up, a product others have been to court over in the past for similar claims.
The trial lasted over three years but finally came to a close this week when Hardeman walked away with $5.27 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages of $75 million, a massive sum.
Plaintiff Edwin Hardeman is a 70-year-old from San Francisco, California.
via: Getty ImagesHe believes the weed killer Round-up was to blame for his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis.
Hardeman frequently used Roundup on his property.
via: Getty ImagesHe used the weed killer to spray for things like poison oak.
Hardeman used the weed killer frequently on his 57-acre property for over 20 years.
via: Getty ImagesHe developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in February 2015.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system.
via: Getty ImagesCancer cells grow in the lymph nodes, part of the body's immune system, and can spread to other parts of the body.
Although the disease is treatable, depending on age and health, the statistics can be grim.
via: ShutterstockThe ten year survival rate for the disease is about 60%.
Monsanto is an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, recently purchased by Bayer.
via: ShutterstockThey produce Roundup weed killer and were one of the first companies to produce genetically engineered crops.
Their product Roundup is used by millions of people.
via: ShutterstockIt is used in over 160 countries around the world.
But some claim that an ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, can cause cancer in humans.
via: ShutterstockIt is sprayed on many major crops in the US.
Erin Brockovich even wrote an article on the dangers of glyphosate in 2018.
via: ShutterstockHer article was published in The Guardian.
Her article states that glyphosate is one of many widely used chemicals in the United States that may cause cancer.
via: ShutterstockShe writes, "Unlike pharmaceuticals, which have to go through relatively rigorous (if imperfect) testing before being released on the marketplace, the vast majority of chemicals like glyphosate will never be adequately tested for their effects on ecosystems or human beings."
In Hardeman's case, he claims he developed cancer from his prolonged use of the weed killer.
via: ShutterstockHis suit against Monsanto claimed that Monsanto did not provide adequate warnings on their product that it could cause cancer.
The World Health Organization released a study in 2015 concluding that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans.
via: ShutterstockIt is also the most used herbicide in the world.
However, the EPA disagrees with the WHO's assessment.
via: ShutterstockThey do not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic.
Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, agrees with the assessment that glyphosate does not cause cancer.
via: ShutterstockAnd it is hard to say for sure whether it does.
While many people who have used Roundup have contracted non-Hodgman's lymphoma, it hasn't definitively been proven that glyphosate is to blame.
via: ShutterstockWhich is why Roundup is still available for purchase.
Does this mean we will all get cancer from glyphosate?
via: ShutterstockProbably not unless you work in agriculture. But there is a risk to people who use the chemical on a daily basis, which is what Hardeman was doing.
Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, still claims their products are safe, despite the outcome of the trial.
via: ShutterstockThey released a statement following the verdict.
The statement read:
via: Getty Images"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. The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances."
via: Getty Images"We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family. Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them."
Hardeman's case may set a precedent for similar cases against the agriculture company.
via: ShutterstockThis is not the first case involving Roundup to go to trial.
In 2018 a California jury awarded a man almost $300 million dollars in a similar case.
via: Getty ImagesDewayne Johnson was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using Roundup daily as a groundskeeper.
He said he was twice accidentally covered in Roundup in addition to using it frequently.
via: Getty ImagesHe developed terminal cancer, which he blamed on the exposure. The jury agreed with him.
Johnson was originally awarded $300 million dollars, but later the amount was dropped.
via: Getty ImagesHe ended up getting $78.
But Johnson still hasn't seen much of that money.
via: Getty ImagesBayer is still fighting the case.
But in that case, too, Bayer claimed the product was safe to use.
via: Getty ImagesCiting a 40-year history of safe use.
But these cases are not the only cases against Roundup.
via: Getty ImagesOver 10,000 other cases have been brought to court at a state level.
It remains to be seen if this case will set a precedent for those other cases.
via: Getty ImagesBut many remain hopeful they could get the same results.
As for Hardeman, his lawyer, Jennifer Moore, released a statement.
via: Getty Images"Today, the jury sent a message loud and clear that companies should no longer put products on the market for anyone to buy without being truthful, without testing their product and without warning if it causes cancer," she said.
Bayer plans to appeal this case as well.
via: Getty ImagesThey still maintain that the chemical is safe to use and does not cause cancer.
In the coming months and years, we will see if other cases similar to this will have the same outcome.
via: Getty ImagesBut for now, as Brockovich says in her article, " We need to petition our legislators, exercise our right to vote, rally our communities, lobby for what we believe in, and most importantly, understand that it’s the health and welfare of our families that is at stake."