SCOTUS: Bring On the Roundup Lawsuits

Court upholds $25M judgment for Edwin Hardeman, paving path to further legal action
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 21, 2022 11:05 AM CDT
SCOTUS: Bring On the Roundup Lawsuits
The US Supreme Court Building, seen Tuesday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court has rejected Bayer's appeal to shut down thousands of lawsuits claiming that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. The justices on Tuesday left in place a $25 million judgment in favor of Edwin Hardeman, a California man who says he developed cancer from using Roundup for decades to treat poison oak, overgrowth, and weeds on his San Francisco Bay Area property, per the AP. Hardeman's lawsuit had served as a test case for thousands of similar lawsuits after the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate, the weed-killing ingredient in Roundup, as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015.

The high court's action comes amid a series of court fights over Roundup that have pointed in different directions. On Friday, a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an Environmental Protection Agency finding from 2020 that glyphosate doesn't pose a serious health risk and is "not likely" to cause cancer in humans. The appellate court ordered the EPA to reexamine its finding. At the same time, Bayer has won four consecutive trials in state court against people who claimed they got cancer from their use of Roundup. The latest verdict in favor of the company came last week in Oregon. Bayer had argued that federal regulators have repeatedly determined its products are safe, and that lawsuits based on claims under state laws should be dismissed.

Last year, Bayer set aside $4.5 billion to deal with the claims that glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer. The company had previously taken a charge of nearly $10 billion for earlier rounds of litigation. Bayer, which inherited Roundup and the litigation when it acquired Monsanto in 2018, also had warned that allowing these sorts of claims will damage innovation in agriculture, health, and other industries. The Justice Department, which had sided with Bayer in the lower courts during the Trump administration, recommended that the high court not get involved. Bayer maintains the product is safe, but it said that it would replace glyphosate in Roundup for residential use beginning in 2023. (Read more Roundup stories.)

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