BAYER has taken yet another hit following its purchase of controversial agribusiness Monsanto with the news a Californian jury has awarded a couple an eye-watering $A2.85 billion in punitive damages and $A78.5m in compensatory damages after it found Bayer's glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide caused their cancer.
It is the third consecutive time in three court cases in California that Roundup, formerly owned by Monsanto, which was sold to Bayer last year, has been found to be the cause of cancer in humans, with this latest result, in favour of northern Californian couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who both have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, culminating in the largest damages payment awarded yet.
The investment world reacted uneasily to the news, with Bayer shares falling over 5 per cent on the back of the court finding, from 56.53 euros a share on Tuesday to 53.66 euros on Wednesday, before rebounding slightly.
Investors remain worried about the precedent the guilty findings set, with another 13,400 lawsuits logged across the US claiming Roundup has caused cancer.
Bayer, however, in a statement, has stood by the claims it has made following the previous two cases, that the case does not set a legal precedent across following lawsuits.
"The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances," the company said in a statement, which also announced Bayer would appeal the decision, as it has with the previous two cases.
Bayer also highlighted a recent US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that found glyphosate was not a carcinogen.
Considerable controversy centres over the validity of the precedent set by the jurors regarding glyphosate's safety, with the crop protection sector arguing that safety decisions should be left to those with a scientific background, such as the EPA, rather than layman juries.
In this most recent case, Reuters reports that the damages will likely be downgraded, due to US Supreme Court precedents regarding the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages.
The Pilliod case saw $A2.85 billion in punitive damages and $A78.5 million in compensatory damages.
All eyes will be on the next Roundup court case to be scheduled, which will take place in the mid-west state of Missouri, the first time action has taken place out of famously left-leaning California.
Bayer is pining for a resolution to the court actions, which have carved a gaping hole in its balance sheet.
Since taking over Monsanto, Bayer has lost around (e)30 billion from its balance sheet.