It’s the second time in eight months that a jury has reached that verdict.
But Edwin Hardeman’s case against Monsanto is the first to be tried in federal court. And thousands of similar cases are still pending at the federal or state level.
“We are very pleased that the jury unanimously held that the Roundup caused the non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” Hardeman’s attorney Jennifer Moore said.
“It was a hard, long-fought battle against Monsanto. And for Mr. Hardeman to have his day in court and to show that Roundup does cause cancer.”
But the trial isn’t over yet. While the first phase focused on whether Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer, the second phase — which begins Wednesday — focuses on whether Monsanto is liable.
Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, insists that glyphosate — the key ingredient in Roundup — is safe.
“We are disappointed with the jury’s initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer,” Bayer said in a statement.
“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.”
Bayer said the jury’s verdict Tuesday “has no impact on future cases and trials because each one has its own factual and legal circumstances.”
Another cancer patient was awarded $ 78 million
It’s unclear how much the jury might award Hardeman in damages, if anything at all.
But last August, in the first state trial over whether Roundup can cause cancer, California jurors awarded former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $ 289 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
A judge later reduced the total award to $ 78 million. But Johnson’s attorney Timothy LItzenburg said his client has not seen much of it because Monsanto is appealing.
Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial because doctors said he was near death. And in California, dying plaintiffs can be granted expedited trials.
Litzenburg said he and other attorneys have more than 4,000 similar cases awaiting trial in various state courts.
One advantage of filing in state court rather than federal court is that state courts often produce outcomes faster — which can be critical for terminally ill patients.
But Hardeman’s case is in federal multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
MDL is similar to a class-action lawsuit because it consolidates pre-trial proceedings when there are multiple plaintiffs for the sake of efficiency.
But unlike a class-action lawsuit, each case within an MDL gets its own trial — with its own outcome.
In other words, one MDL plaintiff might get a large settlement, while another plaintiff might get nothing.