Weedkiller Woes: Australian Court Nears Decision in Bayer's Roundup Trial

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In a pivotal moment for Australia, an Australian court heard closing arguments on Tuesday in a class action lawsuit against Bayer AG (OTC:BAYRY) (OTC:BAYZF), alleging that the widely used weedkiller Roundup is linked to cancer. 

This marks the first such case in Australia to reach this advanced stage. The lawsuit, encompassing over 1,000 claimants, is significant for the country where Roundup is extensively utilized, and the outcome may set a precedent.

Bayer, already burdened by over 50,000 claims in the U.S., has paid billions to settle allegations that its glyphosate herbicide, Roundup, led to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

Monday, a Pennsylvania jury ordered Bayer’s Monsanto to pay over $2.2 billion to former Roundup user John McKivison, who attributed his cancer to the popular weedkiller.

The verdict, the largest in the five-year Roundup litigation, includes $250 million for compensatory losses and $2 billion in punitive damages. McKivison, a 49-year-old landscaper, claimed prolonged exposure to Roundup led to his non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis in 2020.

Should the Federal Court in Victoria rule that Roundup caused lymphoma, the subsequent phase will determine whether Bayer was negligent in disclosing product risks and should pay damages. 

Reuters notes that while damages in Australia are anticipated to be less substantial than in U.S. cases, Maurice Blackburn, representing the claimants, anticipates “significant” compensation for each affected person. Kelvin McNickle, the lead claimant who used Roundup for over two decades, developed lymphoma at 35 and serves as a focal point for the case.

Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto, the original producer of Roundup, for $63 billion in 2018 brought the weedkiller into its portfolio. The controversy surrounding Roundup escalated in 2015 when the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Bayer agreed to a $9.6 billion settlement in the U.S. in 2020 but faces ongoing legal challenges globally.

Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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