The Supreme Court has rejected Monsanto’s second petition seeking review of a decision that found the nation’s pesticide law does not preempt state-law claims that Roundup was misbranded because it did not carry a cancer warning.
The order denying the petition was issued Monday, less than one week after the court denied a similar petition in another Roundup cancer case that resulted in a verdict of about $25 million for Edwin Hardeman.
The petition rejected Monday concerns a California couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who won a verdict of about $87 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, said in a statement it "respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision, but the company is not surprised given the court’s declination in Hardeman just one week ago. There are likely to be future cases, including Roundup cases, that present the U.S. Supreme Court with preemption questions like Pilliod and Hardeman and could also create a Circuit split and potentially change the legal environment.
"The Solicitor General’s brief in Hardeman referenced the Carson case, which is currently before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and involves a favorable ruling by the trial court that the personal injury claims were preempted by federal law," Bayer said.
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The Supreme Court did not issue any language explaining its decision to deny the petition. In its decision, the California Court of Appeal said Monsanto’s preemption argument “disregards the provision in FIFRA that registration and approval of a label is not a defense to a claim of misbranding.”
In its petition, Monsanto said the question the Supreme Court should consider is whether the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act “preempts a state-law failure-to-warn claim where the warning cannot be added to a product without EPA approval and EPA has repeatedly concluded that the warning is not appropriate.”
The Pilliods, however, countered that state-law claims “that require manufacturers to design reasonably safe products” are not preempted because they impose no labeling requirements. “The same is true of claims that target product marketing, because they do not ‘require that manufacturers label or package their products in any particular way,’” they said, quoting a previous Supreme Court decision.
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