In a legal blow to German chemical giant Bayer’s Monsanto unit lost a final appeal in a marathon legal battle in France in which it has been held liable for the accidental inhalation of a weedkiller by a crop farmer.
In 2019, Monsanto had been trying to overturn a court verdict by an appeals court that had ruled that its product safety information have been inadequate in relation to the accident involving farmer Paul Francois in 2004.
The latest ruling from France’s highest court saw Monsanto losing its appeal, opening the way for another court to decide on the quantum of damages that is to be awarded to Francois.
Francois has argued that the fumes he inhadled from Monsanto’s weedkiller Lasso, a product that the company subsequently withdrew from the French market, caused him neurological problems, including memory loss, headaches and fainting.
In a statement, Bayer said it was reviewing the court verdict.
Crop protection products “do not present a risk to human health if they are used under the conditions of use defined in the context of their marketing authorisation,” said Bayer.
Supporting the court’s verdict was anti-pesticide group Generations Futures, which welcomed “this historic decision in which an agro-chemical multinational is at last found liable for the harm caused to this courageous farmer.”
Francois has previously sought damages of around $1.2 million (1 million euros).
In 2018, Bayer acquired Monsanto for $63 billion and has been facing a wave of litigation since in the United States over allegations that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup causes cancer.
Bayer continues to argue that Roundup is safe and is trying to settle the litigation through a proposed $11 billion payment.