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Man Who Developed Cancer After Roundup Use Awarded More Than $80 Million in Damages

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Man Who Developed Cancer After Roundup Use Awarded More Than $80 Million in Damages
Plaintiff Edwin Haderman leaves with his wife Mary after a jury said Monsanto must pay him more than $80 million in damages. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

A jury in the first U.S. federal Roundup trial ruled Wednesday that Bayer must pay more than $80 million in damages to 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who developed cancer after using the glyphosate-containing weedkiller to control poison oak, weeds and overgrowth on his Sonoma property for years, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Hardeman's trial had been split into two parts. In the first, decided last week, the jury ruled that Hardeman's use of the famous weedkiller, developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, contributed to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. That decision meant the trial could move to the second phase of determining whether Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, was liable. The jury decided Wednesday to award Hardeman $200,000 for medical expenses, $5.6 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages, AFP reported.

"Today, the jury resoundingly held Monsanto accountable for its 40 years of corporate malfeasance and sent a message to Monsanto that it needs to change the way it does business," Hardeman's attorneys Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said in a statement.

The decision comes a little more than half a year after a jury in a California state case ruled that Roundup use caused a Bay Area groundskeeper's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and awarded him $289 million, though that was later reduced to $78 million and is being appealed. University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias told CNN that Wednesday's decision shows the first trial "wasn't a one-off."

Bayer announced it would appeal Wednesday's verdict as well in a statement released Wednesday.

"We are disappointed with the jury's decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic," the company said.

Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe; however, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015.

In the second part of the trial, Haderman's lawyers showed evidence that the company had allegedly sought to influence scientists and regulators about the safety of glyphosate, Reuters reported. In awarding damages, the jury found that Roundup's design was defective, that Monsanto had not warned users of the product's risk and that it had acted negligently.

Hardeman said he was "overwhelmed" by the ruling.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he told reporters, according to Reuters.

Hardeman's was the first of more than 760 cases pending before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria and was considered a bellwether trial to determine the potential range of damages and settlement options. Chhabria has scheduled another such trial for May and a third will also likely take place this year. All will be split in two parts like Haderman's trial. The decision to split the trial in two was seen by legal experts as beneficial to Bayer.

There are more than 11,200 Roundup trials pending in the U.S. Another California state trial is scheduled to start March 28, and at least two more should take place in Missouri state court in the fall.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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