Hardeman v. Monsanto
Public Justice has defended this Ninth Circuit appeal of a headline-generating $80 million verdict against chemical giant Monsanto on behalf of a California man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after decades of exposure to Monsanto’s best-selling weedkiller Roundup.
Hardeman sued Monsanto in 2016, arguing that his cancer was caused by Roundup, which lacked any kind of warning that Roundup could cause cancer. Hardeman won an $80 million jury verdict against Monsanto in spring 2019, with a unanimous jury finding that his cancer was caused by Roundup and by Monsanto’s failure to warn of the known dangers of its product.
The award included $75 million in punitive damages, reflecting Monsanto’s despicable conduct in refusing to test Roundup and in waging a decade’s-long campaign to manipulate the science and hide the risks of its deadly product from regulators and the public. (The court later reduced that award to $20 million on constitutional grounds—a decision Hardeman is appealing.)
The appeal presented one of the hottest legal issues of the day: whether EPA’s approval of glyphosate (Roundup’s active ingredient), and the agency’s industry-influenced (and highly dubious) position that glyphosate does not cause cancer, preempts out a personal-injury victim’s right to recover damages from a wrongdoing corporation.
In May 2021, the Ninth Circuit held that EPA’s approval of a pesticide label does not immunize a manufacturer from liability in the tort system. And it affirmed the jury’s finding that Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer—the first (and only) federal decision in the country on this issue.
Public Justice’s involvement in this case is part of our ongoing effort to stop wrongdoing corporations like Monsanto from blocking victims’ access to justice.