Bayer urges court to overturn $20M glyphosate-cancer verdict, objecting to ‘unreliable expert testimony’

roundup spray
Credit: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Roundup manufacturer Monsanto urged three Ninth Circuit judges on [Ocotber 23] to overturn a jury’s verdict finding the weed killer caused a California man’s cancer, arguing that the federal judge overseeing the trial allowed the jury to hear from an unreliable expert witness.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman, now a civil litigator with WilmerHale, argued on behalf of the Bayer-owned agrochemical company.

“The trial in this case never should have been held,” he said.

U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria held a week’s worth of hearings in 2018 on whether the science supporting claims that Roundup causes cancer in humans was strong enough to present to a jury.

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In July 2018, Chhabria ruled that expert opinions offered by three of plaintiff’s experts on a causal connection between exposure to Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate and cancer were “shaky but admissible,” advancing the first federal bellwether jury trial centered around Ed Hardeman, a Sonoma County man who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015.

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In 2019, a six-person jury awarded Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages and $5 million in compensatory damages for past and future pain and suffering. Chhabria later reduced the punitive damages award by $50 million, finding it excessive.

Waxman said [Ocotber 23] that the jury should have never heard from pathologist Dr. Dennis Weisenberger, whose testimony did not pass the gatekeeping standard for admitting expert testimony that the U.S. Supreme Court enshrined in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

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