After years of trials and appeals at every decision not in its favor, Bayer was dealt a crushing blow last month when the United States Supreme Court ruled that lawsuits over its flagship weedkiller Roundup and its controversial main ingredient would be allowed to continue. The Court also ruled that the $25 million judgement in favor of one of the first plaintiffs in the lawsuits would stand.
The Edwin Hardeman case is rivaled only by that of California school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson for its impact on the trajectory of the battle over Roundup and its key ingredient glyphosate. While the Johnson case was the first to attack the source of the “science” Bayer used to back its claims that glyphosate was safe – in many cases citing studies it had either conducted itself or paid for – the Hardeman case continued the narrative and actively exposed the lengths Bayer was willing to go to influence regulators and lawmakers.
Evidence introduced by Hardeman’s attorney over the course of the proceedings frequently put her at direct odds with the judge presiding over the case. Nevertheless, a jury sided with Hardeman and awarded him $80 million when it found that repeated exposure to glyphosate in Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The award was later reduced to $25 million and was again challenged by Bayer. The corporation sought a reversal of the Hardeman verdict in early 2020 and lost its appeal in mid-2021 when a federal court upheld the award.
Having reached the steps of the Supreme Court and lost, Bayer must now pay the $25 million judgement and still faces over 100,000 similar lawsuits where plaintiffs assert that repeated long-term exposure to glyphosate in Roundup causes cancer. And while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears reluctant to acknowledge the dangers of glyphosate, the international community has all but condemned the substance with the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifying it as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”