Monsanto told the U.S. Supreme Court that if an award of $25 million over claims that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer is allowed to stand, it will cause “far-reaching harm” to American businesses.
The company asked the high court to overturn a Ninth Circuit ruling that affirmed the jury award to Edwin Hardeman, a California man who successfully claimed that repeated exposure to Roundup led to his cancer diagnosis. Monsanto said the decision inappropriately transfers control over a product’s safety warning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the California jury that decided the case in the trial court.
Hardeman has questioned Monsanto’s arguments that California’s failure-to-warn claims are preempted by federal law and that experts testifying on Hardeman’s behalf were allowed to do so under a “uniquely lenient” standard in district court.
In May, the Ninth Circuit ruled that California’s failure-to-warn claims were not preempted by FIFRA, as the requirements of both state and federal laws were similarly consistent. According to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, under the federal law, manufacturers must provide label warnings “adequate to protect health and environment,” and California law mandates warnings about dangers that a “reasonably prudent” manufacturer would know about.