Pilliod v. Monsanto Co.Annotate this Case
After years of spraying Roundup herbicide on their property, Pilliod and her husband, Pilliod, each developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Pilliods sued Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, alleging design defect and failure to warn. After a six-week trial, the jury awarded Alberta over $37 million in compensatory damages, awarded Alva over $18 million in compensatory damages, and awarded each of them $1 billion in punitive damages. The trial court conditionally denied Monsanto’s motion for new trial, contingent on the Pilliods’ acceptance of substantially reduced compensatory and punitive damages, resulting in a total award to Alberta of about $56 million (including about $45 million in punitive damages) and a total award to Alva of about $31 million (including about $25 million in punitive damages). The Pilliods accepted the reductions.
The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Monsanto’s arguments that the claims were preempted by federal law, the jury’s liability findings are not supported by substantial evidence, the jury was improperly instructed as to the Pilliods’ design defect claim, the jury’s causation findings are legally and factually flawed, the trial court abused its discretion by admitting certain evidence, the verdict is the product of attorney misconduct, the punitive damages awards should be stricken or further reduced because they are unsupported by evidence and constitutionally excessive.