A jury in the US has ordered one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical conglomerates to pay US$175 million (NZ$300 million) to a man who said he developed cancer after using the company’s weed killer.
Bayer AG, the German corporation, was told by a jury in Philadelphia on Friday to pay retired restaurant owner Ernest Caranci US$25 million (NZ$43 million) in compensatory damages and US$150 million (NZ$258 million) in punitive damages.
Caranci had used Roundup weed killer in his garden for years and he claimed during the trial that exposure to its chemicals had caused him to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
A Bayer spokesperson said in a statement that the company disagreed with the verdict and was “confident we can get this unfounded verdict overturned and the excessive damage awards reduced through our appeal”.
Caranci’s lawyers said in a joint statement that they were pleased with the verdict.
Roundup was manufactured by US company Monsanto until 2018 when the firm was bought by Bayer for US$66 billion (NZ$113 billion).
Since 2020, Bayer has paid a number of settlements in lawsuits involving former Monsanto products that contained dicamba, a herbicide, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chemical compounds that are now banned under federal law.
Bayer settled most Roundup claims against it in 2020 for up to US$10.9 billion (NZ$18.7 million) but still faces close to 40,000 Roundup-related cases.
Last week, the company was hit with a US$1.25 million (NZ$2.15 million) verdict in a separate Roundup trial. Before that, it had won nine consecutive trials over similar claims.
The German conglomerate has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use.
Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world.