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Jury awards $80 million to California man who claimed weed killer caused cancer

Jury: Roundup contributed to man's cancer

A federal court civil jury awarded a California man $80 million over his claim that the weed killer Roundup caused cancer, months after the same jury found Roundup was substanial factor in causing his non-Hodgkin's lymphona. The six-person jury in San Francisco returned its verdict in favor of Edwin Hardeman, 70, who said he used Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his San Francisco Bay Area property for years. 

Agribusiness giant Monsanto is facing thousands of similar lawsuits nationwide. Monsanto has said studies have established that the active ingredient in its widely used weed killer is safe.

Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, issued a statement saying it would appeal the verdict. 

"The jury in this case deliberated for more than four days before reaching a causation verdict in phase one, an indication that it was very likely divided over the scientific evidence," Bayer said in a statement. "The legal rulings under which the court admitted expert scientific testimony from the plaintiff that it called 'shaky' is one of several significant issues that the Company may raise on appeal. Monsantomoved to exclude this same evidence before trial."

A different jury in August awarded another man $289 million. A judge later slashed the award to $78 million, and Monsanto has appealed.

Hardeman's trial may be more significant than that case. U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits and has deemed Hardeman's case and two others "bellwether trials," CBS San Francisco reports

The outcome of such cases can help attorneys decide whether to keep fighting similar lawsuits or settle them. Legal experts said verdicts in favor of Hardeman and the other test plaintiffs would give their attorneys a strong bargaining position in any settlement talks for the remaining cases before Chhabria.

Many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that the chemical is safe.

Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weed killer is now sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the U.S.

The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015.

Lawsuits against Monsanto followed, and thousands are now pending nationwide.

Monsanto has attacked the international research agency's opinion as an outlier. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.