Bayer Wins Second Roundup Case

14.12.2021 - Bayer has now won two of five cases in which US plaintiffs have charged that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup caused their cancer. All the cases have been heard in the state of California. In the second consecutive victory for the German group, a jury in San Bernardino County found that Roundup was not the cause of a woman's non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Donnetta Stephens had sued Bayer’s Monsanto arm for negligence, saying she used Roundup in her yard for more than 30 years, and the manufacturer had failed to warn of any dangers. She was diagnosed with NHL in 2017. Stephens’ case was a so-called preference trial, meaning that it was expedited due to the plaintiff’s poor health. Her cancer was said to be in remission; however, she suffered memory loss after multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

Unlike all of the preceding cases, this trial was held virtually, using the Zoom platform, following a local outbreak of Covid-19.  It reportedly faced multiple technical issues, with jurors frequently being disconnected. While the proceedings lasted more than four months, they lacked the detail and depth of the earlier cases, reports said.

Attorneys for Stephens said they planned to ask for a retrial as under the difficult circumstances the proceedings were “not coherent.” Bayer, however, said the jury’s verdict in its favor brought the case to “a successful conclusion.” It added that the verdict was consistent with the evidence presented, which did not show that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s NHL.

In the case won by Bayer in October, the Los Angeles jury said the prosecution had failed to prove that Roundup caused a California boy’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Destiny Clark, represented by the same lawyer who represented Donnetta Stephens, claimed that her spraying Roundup on the family’s property exposed her son Ezra to the herbicide and caused him to develop Burkitt’s lymphoma – a form of NHL. In the 9 to 3 verdict, the jurors decided the evidence was too inconclusive.

Supreme Court may hear Bayer’s petition

At the end of November, the US Supreme Court agreed to review of Bayer’s petition to have the country’s highest court decide whether a federal district court’s judgment in favor of Edwin Hardeman – who was awarded $25 million in damages – should be dismissed. After looking at the background of the case during its Dec. 10 session, the court called on the administration of US president Joe Biden to advise whether it should hear it.

US solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar has been tasked with filing a brief expressing the administration's views. This is expected over the coming months, with the deadline open. Bayer said it was encouraged by the development, which could indicate the court's interest. It noted that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had “consistently found” glyphosate-based herbicides not to be carcinogenic. If Biden’s new EPA administrator Michael Regan takes a difference stance it could add complexity to the review.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist