Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co.

Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co.

Leading Roundup Litigators Win $2 Billion in Initial Jury Verdict for Third Roundup Cancer Case

Number 1 Jury Verdict in California, 2019Alva and Alberta Pilliod v. Monsanto Co. (Case No. RG17862702, JCCP No. 4953) was the first Roundup non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuit from the California Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP) to go to trial. Hundreds of lawsuits filed in California state courts are consolidated in the Roundup JCCP before Judge Winifred Smith for the Superior Court of Alameda County.

Pilliod v. Monsanto Co. was also the third Roundup cancer case to go before a jury. The first Monsanto Roundup trial, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Co., resulted in a $289.2 million jury verdict last August. The judge later upheld the jury’s verdict but reduced the punitive damages award, bringing the total award to $78.5 million. The second case, Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., resulted in an $80 million jury verdict against the agrochemical company.

Plaintiffs in the litigation against Monsanto (now Bayer) allege that exposure to Roundup weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Looking for unsealed Monsanto emails, communications, studies and other memoranda? View the Monsanto Papers.

2/7/2020 update: Monsanto filed opening brief in its appeal of the Pilliod verdict in California’s First District Court of Appeal, Case No. A158228.

8/28/2019 update: The Pilliods filed Notice of Cross-Appeal.

8/26/2019 update: Monsanto filed Notice of Appeal.

7/26/2019 update: The Pilliods accepted Judge Smith’s reduced judgment. Their verdict was reduced to $87M.

Statement from R. Brent Wisner on the verdict reduction:

“This a major victory for the Pilliods. The judge rejected every argument Monsanto raised and sustained a very substantial verdict. While we believe the reduction in damages does not fairly capture the pain and suffering experienced by Alva and Alberta, the overall result is a big win.”

7/19/2019 update: Judge Smith denied Monsanto’s motion for JNOV. Judge Smith conditionally granted Monsanto’s motion for new trial unless the Pilliods consent to the reduced judgment of $86.74 million.

7/1/2019 update: Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Monsanto’s Motion for a New Trial and JNOV

Alva Pilliod and his wife, Alberta, are in their 70s and have been married for nearly 50 years. They started using Roundup in the 1970s and continued using the weed killer until only a few years ago. The Livermore couple has two children and four grandchildren.

Alva suffers from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his bones that spread to his pelvis and spine. He was diagnosed in 2011. Alberta was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015.

Attorneys for the Pilliods asked Judge Ioana Petrou (the previous presiding judge who has since been appointed to the First District Court of Appeal) to expedite the trial due to their advanced ages and cancer diagnoses. Judge Petrou granted their trial preference. The presiding judge for this trial is now Judge Winifred Smith.

The Miller Firm senior partner Michael J. Miller and Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner are co-lead trial counsel for the Pilliods. The Miller Firm and Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman co-tried the Johnson case last year.

Pilliod v. Monsanto Company Trial Transcripts

Day 1: 3/28/2019Plaintiff opening statement by R. Brent Wisner. Defense opening statement by Tarek Ismail.

Day 2: 4/2/2019Dr. Christopher Portier 402 Hearing (short hearing out of the presence of the jury to determine the admissibility of evidence). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Dr. Christopher Portier testimony (jury present). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Dr. Portier holds a Ph.D. in Biostatistics (with a minor in Epidemiology). For over three decades, Dr. Portier held prominent leadership positions in the U.S. government that combined the disciplines of toxicology, statistics and epidemiology, including:

  • Associate Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program and thus the nation’s chief toxicologist, among other roles at NIEHS.
  • Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, Center for Disease and Prevention.
  • Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Expert Report of Dr. Portier

Day 3: 4/3/2019Dr. Christopher Portier testimony (continued). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Day 4: 4/4/2019 Dr. Charles Jameson testimony. Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner. Recross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Dr. Jameson worked for the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a senior chemist for the NCI’s Rodent Bioassay Program where he served as chief chemist, directing all chemistry activities and participating in the development of all two-year rodent bioassays while also serving as secretary for the NCI’s Chemical Selection Working Group. He also served as program leader for the National Toxicology Program at the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for 12 years.

Expert Report of Dr. Jameson

Day 5: 4/8/2019Dr. Beate Ritz, Chair of the Epidemiology Department at UCLA, direct examination by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Kelly Evans. Redirect examination by Michael Miller. Recross-examination by Kelly Evans. Further redirect examination by Michael Miller.

Mark Martens video testimony (taken on April 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C.). Mr. Martens is a former Monsanto executive, Toxicology Agriculture Research & Development Director for Monsanto Europe.

Mark Martens video testimony

Video transcript

Dr. Ritz is a professor of Epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds doctoral degrees in Medicine and Epidemiology and is the author of numerous toxicology publications, lectures and presentations. Dr. Ritz engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate causes NHL. Furthermore, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate-based formulations, including Roundup, cause NHL.”

Dr. Ritz Expert Report

Day 6: 4/9/2019Dr. Dennis Weisenburger direct examination by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Dr. Weisenburger specializes in the studies of the hematopoietic and immune systems, with a special interest in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His study of the pathological mechanisms by which NHL develops began in the 1980s when he was directing large epidemiologic studies related to NHL.

Over the last four decades, Dr. Weisenburger has published over 300 papers on NHL in peer-reviewed journals, and over 50 papers on the epidemiology of NHL, including studies on glyphosate and NHL. In his expert report, Dr. Weisenburger concluded that to “a reasonable degree of medical certainty that glyphosate and GBFs [glyphosate-based formulations] (including Roundup) can cause NHL in humans exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or environment.”

Dr. Weisenburger Expert Report

Day 7: 4/10/2019Dr. Dennis Weisenburger cross-examination by Tarek Ismail (resumed). Redirect examination by Michael Miller. Recross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Further re-direct examination by Michael Miller. Further recross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Mark Martens video testimony (resumed).

William Reeves video testimony. Mr. Reeves is Global Health and Safety Issues Management Lead at Bayer Crop Science.

William Reeves video testimony

Video transcript

Day 8: 4/11/2019 – Dr. William Robert Sawyer, toxicologist, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Kelly Evans. Redirect examination by Brent Wisner.

William Reeves video testimony (resumed)

Day 9: 4/15/19 – William Reeves video testimony (resumed)

William Heydens video testimony (Monsanto Regulatory Product Safety Assessment Lead)

William Heydens video testimony

Video transcript

Michael Koch video testimony (Product Safety Team Lead, Bayer Crop Science)

Michael Koch video testimony

Video transcript

Day 10: 4/16/19 – Michael Koch video testimony (resumed)

William Pease, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Eugene Brown, Jr. Redirect examination by Brent Wisner.

Dr. Pease, toxicologist and assistant adjunct professor at the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley. In the early 90s he was a Research Toxicologist at UC Berkeley, where he coordinated the school’s Environmental Health Policy Program and conducted research on the impacts of pesticide use in California. Dr. Pease served as the co-chair of the Human Health Committee of CalEPA’s Comparative Risk Project, organizing its risk assessment and risk ranking process.

Michael Koch video testimony (resumed)

Aaron Blair video testimony. Dr. Blair was the chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group for glyphosate. He currently serves as an advisor on the Chlordecone Scientific Committee (Institute National du Cancer, France), Pesticide Advisory Committee (Carex Canada), and Independent Advisory Board for Exposure Assessment (Institute of Occupational Medicine, Scotland). He has authored/coauthored more than 500 papers on occupational and environmental causes of cancer, other diseases, and epidemiologic methodology.

Aaron Blair video testimony

Video transcript

Daniel Goldstein video testimony. Dr. Goldstein, former Monsanto Lead Medical Sciences and Outreach.

Daniel Goldstein video testimony (11.16.2017)

Video transcript

Daniel Goldstein video testimony (2.27.2018)

Video transcript

Day 11: 4/17/2019 – Charles Benbrook, scientist and agricultural economist, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Eugene Brown, Jr. Redirect by Brent Wisner.

Kavitha Raj video testimony. Dr. Kavitha Raj is the treating physician for Mr. and Mrs. Pilliod.

Kavitha Raj, MD video testimony

Video transcript

Day 12: 4/18/2019 Kavitha Raj video testimony (resumed)

Alberta Pilliod direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Eugene Brown, Jr.

Alva Pilliod direct examination by Brent Wisner

Michael Pilliod direct examination by Michael Miller

Alberta and Alva Pilliod are the plaintiffs in this case. Michael Pilliod is their son.

James Rubenstein video testimony

Dr. Rubenstein, attending physician in hematology and oncology from the University of California San Francisco, was Alberta Pilliod’s treating physician.

James Rubenstein, MD video testimony

Video transcript

Day 13: 4/22/2019 Neel Gupta video testimony. Dr. Gupta is Alberta Pilliod’s physician.

Neel Guupta, MD video testimony

Video transcript

Chadi Nabhan direct examination by Michael Miller. Voir dire examination by Tarek Ismail. Direct examination by Michael Miller.

Dr. Chadi Nabhan is a board-certified clinical medical oncologist and past Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Currently, Dr. Nabhan serves as Medical Director of Cardinal Health. His clinical practice and academic research for the past 17 years has focused on lymphomas.

Expert Report of Dr. Nabhan

Day 14: 4/23/2019Alberta Pilliod 402 hearing (out of the presence of the jury). Direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by Brent Wisner.

Chadi Nabhan testimony (continued). Direct examination by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by Michael Miller. Recross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Direct examination of James Mills by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Mr. Mills is a forensic economist.

Video testimony of Samuel Murphey. Mr. Murphey is Head of Global Issues Management, Bayer Crop Science.

Samuel Murphey video testimony

Video transcript

Video testimony of James Guard. Mr. Guard is Global Roundup Lawn & Garden Lead, Bayer Crop Science.

Plaintiffs rest.

James Guard video testimony

Video transcript

Day 15: 4/25/2019 – Proceedings without jury present.

Day 16: 4/29/2019 – Testimony of defense expert witness, Celeste Bello.

Direct examination by Tarek Ismail. Voir dire examination by Brent Wisner. Direct examination resumed by Tarek Ismail. Cross-examination by Brent Wisner. Redirect examination by Tarek Ismail. Recross-examination by Brent Wisner.

Dr. Bello is a hematologist and oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Day 17: 4/30/2019Testimony of defense expert witness, Robert Phalen.

Direct examination by Kelly Evans. Voir dire examination by Brent Wisner. Direct examination resumed by Kelly Evans. Cross-examination by Brent Wisner. Redirect examination Kelly Evans. Recross-examination by Brent Wisner.

Dr. Phalen is an associate professor in industrial hygiene and safety at the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Day 18: 5/1/2019Testimony of defense expert witness, Lorelei Mucci.

Direct examination by Kelly Evans. Voir dire examination by Michael Miller. Direct examination resumed by Kelly Evans. Cross-examination by Michael Miller. Redirect examination by Kelly Evans. Recross-examination by Michael Miller.

Dr. Mucci is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Day 19: 5/6/2019Testimony of defense expert witness, Alexandra Levine.

Direct examination by Tarek Ismail. Voir dire examination by Michael Miller. Direct examination resumed by Tarek Ismail. Cross-examination by Michael Miller. Redirect examination by Tarek Ismail. Recross-examination by Michael Miller.

Dr. Levine is a professor in City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

Defendant rests.

Day 20: 5/7/2019Proceedings without jury present.

Day 21: 5/8/2019 Jury instructions. Closing argument for the plaintiffs by Brent Wisner. Closing argument for the defense by Tarek Ismail. Rebuttal closing argument by Brent Wisner. Final jury instructions.

Day 22: 5/9/2019Jurors started deliberating. Proceedings without jury present, handling juror questions.

Day 23: 5/13/2019Verdict.

Jury orders Monsanto (now Bayer) to pay $2.055 billion in damages ($2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages), finding exposure to Roundup caused the Pilliods to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Pilliod v. Monsanto Company Trial Exhibits

Heydens, William Depo Exhibits
Koch, Michael Depo Exhibits
Martens, Mark Depo Exhibits
Reeves, William Depo Exhibits
Stipulated Exhibits
  • Hardeman v. Monsanto Co. $80 Million
  • Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Co. $289.2 Million
  • Pilliod et al. v, Monsanto Co. $2 Billion
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