In the wake of a $2 million jury verdict, a Florida woman’s billion-dollar Roundup injury lawsuit doesn’t seem quite so out of reach. Melanie Lynn Lafond, of Palm Beach County, is fighting Stage-4 esophageal cancer. She believes that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer is to blame for her devastating diagnosis.

A mother of three young boys, Lafond knows that the odds of beating the cancer are slim. Doctors believe she has less than six months to live. In her lawsuit, she requests $1 billion in damages. The damages are mostly intended to compensate her for the time she’ll never get to spend with her sons as they grow older.

Exposure to Glyphosate Prompts Lawsuit

For two years, between 2016 and 2018, Lafond was exposed to Roundup and glyphosate, the pesticide’s main ingredient, while working for a landscape company. Her job included wearing a cannister on her back and spraying Roundup on plants. In doing this, she was exposed to large quantities of the dangerous pesticide on a regular basis. Lafond claims that she was never warned about the potential dangers associated with Roundup.

Studies have revealed that people who work with or around glyphosate are much more likely than others to develop cancer. Lafond was exposed to Roundup almost daily for two years. All of a sudden, she gets sick and learns that she has throat cancer. The only logical explanation, that’s also supported by science, is glyphosate.

Florida Product Liability Laws

Lafond lived and worked in Florida when she worked with Roundup. Monsanto – now Bayer – marketed and sold the pesticide in the state. Because of this, Monsanto is subject to Florida’s product liability laws.

Florida’s product liability laws protect consumers who are injured because of a dangerous or defective product. Under the law, companies that design, manufacture, or market products sold within the state have to make sure those products are safe. If the products are defective or inherently dangerous, the companies have to find a better design and/or warn consumers. If they do neither, they can be liable for injuries related to those products.

Here, Lafont’s Roundup injury lawsuit claims that Monsanto:

There’s a growing list of evidence suggesting that Monsanto has known about the dangers of glyphosate and Roundup for decades. Despite this information, the company chose profits over consumers. It poured countless resources into an aggressive marketing campaign and misled the public for years. There’s even evidence to suggest that Monsanto undermined scientific studies and convinced government employees to turn a blind eye to the real science.

Verdicts Likely to be Reduced

Even though Alva and Alberta Pilliod were awarded $2 billion, they will probably never see that much money. Bayer vowed to appeal the jury verdict immediately. On appeal, the amount of money actually awarded to the Pilliods will probably be reduced.

This has already happened once in a Roundup injury case. Last year, a California jury issued a verdict for $289 million. The award included $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. On appeal, a judge said the punitive award was excessive. It was reduced to match the compensatory award, leaving the plaintiff with $78 million.

Juries may be willing to award huge sums of money to Roundup victims to punish Monsanto. The huge verdicts and punitive damages are intended to send a message. However, courts seem inclined to step in when such large punitive awards are handed down. In future Roundup cases, punitive awards will likely be reduced on appeal do as not to exceed compensatory damages.