Monsanto asked the U.S. Supreme Court \ to review an appellate ruling that upheld the $25 million verdict awarded in a bellwether trial over claims that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, saying the Ninth Circuit made mistakes that could influence the multidistrict litigation.
The Bayer AG unit told the high court that the Ninth Circuit’s May ruling should be examined for two reasons — that Monsanto accuser Edwin Hardeman’s state failure-to-warn claims are preempted by federal law and that his expert witnesses were allowed to testify without support about Roundup’s safety.
This decision will control thousands of other federal suits and will “undoubtedly” influence others suits alleging that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer that are still pending across the nation.
In a unanimous published opinion, the Ninth Circuit found on May 14 that Hardeman’s California state failure-to-warn claims are not preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act because the laws’ requirements are mutually consistent.
Under FIFRA, a pesticide label must bear a warning “adequate to protect health and environment” in order to avoid being labeled misbranded in violation of the law. California common law mandates that manufacturers warn about known risks or risks that a “reasonably prudent” manufacturer would know about.
The ruling marked the second appellate loss for Bayer AG subsidiary Monsanto over Roundup after a California appeals court upheld a $21 million jury verdict in 2020 in favor of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson.
After a week-long trial in 2019, a unanimous jury found Monsanto liable for contributing to Hardeman’s cancer and awarded him $80 million, most of which was punitive damages. The trial judge later reduced the award to $25 million.