Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., No. 19-16636 (9th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiff in an action alleging that Monsanto's pesticide, Roundup, caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This appeal arises out of the first bellwether trial for the federal cases consolidated in a multidistrict litigation. After the jury awarded plaintiff $5,267,634.10 in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages, the district court reduced the jury's punitive damages award to $20 million.
The panel held that plaintiff's state failure-to-warn claims are not preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); the district court ultimately applied the correct standard from Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and did not abuse its discretion in admitting plaintiff's expert testimony; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the International Agency for Research on Cancer's classification glyphosate as probably carcinogenic and three regulatory rejections of that classification but excluding evidence from other regulatory bodies; the district court's jury instruction on causation, though erroneous, was harmless; Monsanto was properly denied judgment as a matter of law because evidence shows the carcinogenic risk of glyphosate was knowable at the time of plaintiff's exposure; and evidence supports a punitive damages award, punitive damages were properly reduced, and the reduced award—while close to the outer limits—is constitutional.