Bayer’s stock falls after $2 billion verdict against Roundup maker Monsanto

Jury awards couple $2 billion in damages after ruling that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer

Monsanto must pay couple $2bn in largest verdict yet over cancer claims

A jury handed an unparalleled $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a couple in California who say their cancer was caused by long-term exposure to Monsanto's popular weed killer Roundup, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

The latest verdict is the largest by far and will increase pressure on Bayer, which has suffered share price drops in the wake of the verdicts and is now facing similar lawsuits from thousands of cancer patients, survivors and families who lost loved ones to National Hockey League.

The couple's legal team described the damages award as "historic", saying it totalled $2.055 billion after adding in slightly more than $55 million in compensatory damages. He said the ratio between the $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages is too high.

It was the third consecutive USA jury verdict against the company in litigation over the chemical, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto past year.

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The jury in California's Alameda County Superior Court ruled that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma in both of the Pilliods, who have used the herbicide since the 1970, according to a news release by the Environmental Working Group, a group critical of Bayer's glyphosate strategies and technologies.

Bayer, which was chided by investors for the stock rout at the annual general meeting this month, has said the litigation has had no effect on strong demand from US lawn and garden owners for its glyphosate-based herbicides, adding that demand from USA farmers continued to be driven by the weather.

Monsanto Co's Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017.

Bayer vowed to challenge Monday's ruling, calling it "excessive and unjustifiable". At its recent annual meeting, a shareholder revolt ensued, with more than half of the shareholders voting against absolving management for its decision to acquire the St. Louis-based seed and pesticide company. "The consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic". Bayer said it plans to appeal Monday's verdict. And the company insists there is no link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins's lymphoma. They testified they sprayed Roundup on weeds on several properties for three decades and believed it was safe because the product labels and television advertisements did not warn of a cancer risk.

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Alva Pilliod and wife Alberta of Livermore, both in their 70s, were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

Earlier this month, the EPA said that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

The level of punitive damages may be reduced on appeal, but right now it's the eighth-biggest product-defect jury award in US history.

The American Cancer Society lists glysophate as a "probable carcinogen", based on a 2015 finding that it is "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization.

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