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Originally published on Law360 by Jonathan Capriel

Law360 (November 20, 2023, 8:02 PM EST) — A Missouri jury awarded $1.56 billion to three people who claimed their cancer was caused by Monsanto Co.’s Roundup weedkiller, putting the number of trials the unit of Bayer AG has lost this year to at least four.

The jury found Monsanto liable for design defect and failure to warn claims, according to a Friday announcement by Forrest Weldon Law Group, which represented the three plaintiffs, Daniel Anderson, Valorie Gunther and Jimmy Draeger. Each was awarded $500 million in punitive damages and multimillion-dollar compensatory awards of $38 million, $17.5 million and $5.6 million, respectively.

“We applaud the jury in its relentless pursuit of the truth,” said Bart Rankin, a partner at Forrest Weldon, in a statement issued Friday. “And most of all, we honor the plaintiffs who dared to stand up and courageously cast light into the shadows of a powerful corporation.

“The verdict comes weeks after juries in Philadelphia and San Diego slammed the company with verdicts worth $175 million and $332 million, respectively, on similar claims.

On Monday, a Seattle jury found Monsanto liable for $165 million in a case where a group of former school employees claimed the chemical company’s products ended up in light fixtures on the school campus and slowly poisoned them.

Most of these plaintiffs’ wins stand on shaky ground, said a spokesperson for the company.

“We have strong arguments to get the recent unfounded verdicts overturned and the excessive and unconstitutional damages eliminated or greatly reduced,” the company told Law360 on Monday. “Damages weregreatly reduced in the three early trials the company lost. We won nine of the last 13 trials and the majority ofclaims in this litigation are resolved. The company remains fully committed to defending the robust scientific and regulatory evidence in future trials and appeals.”

The plaintiffs in the Missouri case claimed Monsanto knew its key ingredients in Roundup, specificallyglyphosate, were known to be carcinogenic. Each of the plaintiffs, whose suits were consolidated into one trial,sprayed the product on their yards and properties totally unaware of this, the suits claimed. All claimed they were later diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”The verdict is not just a triumph of justice; it’s a clarion call to Bayer, making it clear that no entity can escape accountability,” Rankin said. “This is the first of many victories as we continue to seek justice for thousands of innocent victims.”

Monsanto continues to reject the claim that its products are dangerous. It also pointed to a recent win in theNinth Circuit, where the panel found that California cannot enforce a rule requiring cancer labels onglyphosate. It said a number of regulatory bodies have determined that the chemical is safe.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer “stands essentially alone in its determination that glyphosate isprobably carcinogenic to humans, while [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency], [California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment], and regulators from around the world conclude that it is not,” the company said, quoting the panel’s opinion.

The consumers were represented by Bart Rankin, Jay Utley, Joanna Raines McKinney, and Joshua Richardson of Forrest Weldon, Matthew A. Clement of Clement Van Ronzelen & Schulte LLC, and McAlan Duncan and Matthew Stubbs of Duncan Stubbs PLLC.

Counsel information for the company wasn’t immediately available.

The case is Jimmy Draeger et al. v. Monsanto Co., case number 22AC-CC00137, in the 19th Judicial CircuitCourt of Cole County, Missouri.

–Additional reporting by Madeline Lyskawa, Emily Field, Lauren Berg, George Woolston, Greg Lamm andRachel Riley. Editing by John C. Davenport.

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