Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co.
Leading Roundup Litigators Win $2 Billion Jury Verdict for Third Roundup Cancer Case
Alva and Alberta Pilliod v. Monsanto Co. (Case No. RG17862702, JCCP No. 4953) was the third Roundup non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuit to go to trial against Monsanto and the first from the California Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP). Hundreds of lawsuits filed in California state courts were consolidated in the Roundup JCCP before Judge Winifred Smith for the Superior Court of Alameda County.
ThePilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. Roundup cancer case ended with a landmark verdict on May 13, 2019. After seven weeks of trial, the jury awarded the Pilliods $2.055 billion. The trial judge later reduced the verdict to $87 million.
The first Monsanto Roundup trial, Dewayne “Lee”Johnson v. Monsanto Co., resulted in a $289.2 million groundbreaking jury verdict on August 10, 2018. The judge later upheld the jury’s verdict but reduced the punitive damages award, bringing the total award to $78.5 million. The verdict was later reduced to $20.5 million. The second case, Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., resulted in an $80 million jury verdict against the agrochemical company on March 27, 2019. The judge later reduced Mr. Hardeman’s verdict to $25.2 million. Monsanto (now part of Bayer) appealed and then lost its appeal in the Ninth Circuit in May 2021 and in August 2021, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). SCOTUS declined to hear Monsanto’s appeal in June 2022, allowing the Pilliods’ final judgment to stand at $87 million.
- Quick link to Pilliod trial transcripts
- Quick link to Pilliod trial exhibits
- Link to Pilliod trial press release
- Brent Wisner closing argument for Pilliod Roundup trial
- Jury Instructions
- Alberta Pilliod verdict form
- Alva Pilliod verdict form
- Link to Pilliod $2B verdict press release
Looking for unsealed Monsanto emails, communications, studies and other memoranda? View the Monsanto Papers.
6/27/2022 update: The Supreme Court denied Bayer’s petition for a writ of certiorari.
Statement from attorney R. Brent Wisner, co-lead trial counsel in Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co.:
“After years of racking up loss after loss in this case, Monsanto can no longer avoid responsibility for the unspeakable harm they have caused Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The high court’s decision is further proof that Monsanto’s only path in this litigation is through the trial courts, which is the way it should be. I am personally looking forward to trying a case against Monsanto this fall in California, my first since the Pilliod trial. Despite Monsanto’s recent victories, I am confident that our team can repeat the success we enjoyed in the first three Roundup trials.”
3/21/2022 update: Monsanto has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the $87 million verdict in Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Company. Attorney for the Pilliods, Pedram Esfandiary, told the media that Monsanto's request is the "latest meritless bid" to overturn justice following a string of losses in trial and appellate courts.
In his statement, Esfandiary said:
"The law and facts are unequivocal. Monsanto has an obligation under California law to warn consumers that its product can cause cancer and providing such a warning is not inconsistent with federal law as recognized by the Supreme Court in pesticide cases for almost two decades. Monsanto failed to warn and willfully strove to obscure the very real risk of cancer associated with Roundup.
“Unfortunately, Alva and Alberta Pilliod are two of millions whose lives were devastated as a result of being exposed to Roundup and developing cancer. Monsanto has already caused immeasurable suffering and prolonging the legal process through which the Pilliods can obtain justice further underscores its twisted agenda. It's time that Monsanto looks reality in the face and changes its conduct accordingly. We are confident of prevailing in the high court should the justices decide to hear the case. "
11/17/2021 update: The California Supreme Court denied Bayer’s request for review of the appeal’s court decision in Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Company . Alva and Alberta Pilliod will retain an $87 million verdict stemming from their lawsuit against Monsanto Company.
“This is not even remotely surprising,” says attorney R. Brent Wisner, who was co-lead counsel for the Pilliods at trial. “It’s not clear how many times Monsanto needs to lose before it stops making frivolous appeals. The Pilliod verdict was based on solid science and unanimous law. They need to stop using the appeals process to deny paying this family its judgment.”
8/9/2021 update: The California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District denied Monsanto’s appeal and affirmed the reduced verdict. This is what R. Brent Wisner, co-lead trial counsel for the Pilliods, had to say about Monsanto’s loss. “Monsanto-Bayer has now lost every one of its appeals to overturn the first three jury verdicts proving Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Today, the appeals court rejected Monsanto’s request for preemption and upheld the trial judge’s reduced award to Alva and Alberta Pilliod of $86.7 million, including punitive damages. This is a major triumph for plaintiffs.
"The Court agreed that evidence we presented at trial showed Monsanto ‘acted with a willful and conscious disregard for the safety of others in its efforts to shape the scientific inquiry into glyphosate and Roundup,’ and that Monsanto’s conduct was ‘sufficiently reprehensible.’ Frankly, it’s time for Bayer to do right by the many thousands of people they have harmed. It’s time to change the Roundup label, in addition to pulling it from the residential market, so everyone using it is properly warned about the known dangers. It’s time to end this litigation for good.”
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 Wisner Baum (formerly Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman) attorney R. Brent Wisner are co-lead trial counsel for the Pilliods. The Miller Firm and Wisner Baum co-tried the Johnson case last year.
Pilliod v. Monsanto Company Trial Transcripts
Day 1: 3/28/2019– Plaintiff opening statement by R. Brent Wisner. Defense opening statement by Tarek Ismail.
Day 2: 4/2/2019– Dr. 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).
Day 3: 4/3/2019– Dr. 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.
Day 5: 4/8/2019– Dr. 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.
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.”
Day 6: 4/9/2019– Dr. 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.”
Day 7: 4/10/2019– Dr. 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.
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)
Michael Koch video testimony (Product Safety Team Lead, Bayer Crop Science)
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.
Daniel Goldstein video testimony. Dr. Goldstein, former Monsanto Lead Medical Sciences and Outreach.
Daniel Goldstein video testimony (11.16.2017)
Daniel Goldstein video testimony (2.27.2018)
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.
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.
Day 13: 4/22/2019– Neel Gupta video testimony. Dr. Gupta is Alberta Pilliod’s physician.
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.
Day 14: 4/23/2019– Alberta 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.
Video testimony of James Guard. Mr. Guard is Global Roundup Lawn & Garden Lead, Bayer Crop Science.
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: 4/30/2019– Testimony 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: 5/1/2019– Testimony 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: 5/6/2019– Testimony 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.
Day 20: 5/7/2019– Proceedings 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: 5/9/2019– Jurors started deliberating. Proceedings without jury present, handling juror questions.
Day 23: 5/13/2019– Verdict.
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
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