Few public relations crises are as nightmarish for a corporation as an eye-popping verdict drawing a correlation between its product and cancer.

But that’s just what’s happened to German pharmaceutical company Bayer, which worked out a $66 billion deal to acquire St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. shortly before a jury in San Francisco found that exposure to its Roundup weed killer was to blame for a school groundskeeper’s terminal cancer.

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