After losing three consecutive recent Roundup weedkiller trials, Bayer AG has filed a motion to have the second of those three decisions overturned because the trial judge improperly provided feedback to a Pennsylvania state court jury in Philadelphia that returned a $175 million jury verdict on Oct. 27 for Ernest Caranci, a retired restaurant owner who claims to have used the controversial weedkiller on a weekly basis for over 25 years.
In the motion filed Nov. 6, Bayer claims that one juror had told the attorneys representing Bayer that after the jury was divided 9-3, the 12 jurors asked the judge how to proceed because, under Pennsylvania law, a 10-2 decision is the minimum majority for a verdict in a civil case, Reuters reports.
According to Bayer’s motion, Judge James Crumlish sent a note back to the jury through a clerk, informing the jury that it would have to deliberate for more days if it could not reach 10 votes. Normally, attorneys for both sides would have access to communications between the judge and the jury when the latter is deliberating. However, Bayer, which acquired the Roundup weedkiller brand and the eventual litigation surrounding it when it purchased Monsanto in 2018, claims that the judge never informed the lawyers about the exchange with the jury.
Bayer stated in its motion that the juror who informed their attorneys of Judge Crumlish’s instructions to the jury said that the judge’s communication swayed one juror who had previously determined that Bayer was not liable for Caranci’s cancer due to Roundup exposure and that other jurors who were sitting on the fence decided to support Caranci when faced with the prospect of longer deliberations.
Crumlish did not respond to a voicemail about the exchange left by Reuters late in the day on Nov. 7. Bayer is seeking a three-judge panel review of its motion—an unusual but legal request in the Pennsylvania court system. Additionally, Bayer is requesting that Judge Crumlish be excluded from the panel.
The award for Caranci includes $150 million in punitive damages, an amount that Bayer called “excessive.” In 2020, Bayer paid nearly $11 billion to settle approximately 95,000 Roundup-related lawsuits, all of which share similar allegations that exposure to glyphosate, the active compound in Roundup, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bayer still faces 40,000 lawsuits. After winning nine consecutive Roundup trials, On Oct. 20, the company was hit with a $1.25 million verdict in St. Louis, the first Roundup plaintiff verdict outside of California. Bayer’s third Roundup loss at trial occurred Oct. 31 when a San Diego County jury ordered it to pay plaintiff Mike Dennis $332 million.