Judge May Have Just Saved Monsanto $55M

Bayer still plans to appeal March verdict over Roundup's alleged link to cancer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2019 11:26 AM CDT
Judge May Have Just Saved Monsanto $55M
This Feb. 24, 2019 file photo shows containers of Roundup weed killer displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

Jurors awarded too much money to a man who claims Roundup weed killer gave him cancer, according to a federal judge. Judge Vince Chhabria on Monday reduced damages to be paid to Edwin Hardeman by Monsanto owner Bayer from $80 million to $25 million. Chhabria said $20 million in punitive damages—four times the $5.27 million in compensatory damages—was more appropriate under Supreme Court guidelines than the $75 million awarded by a six-person jury in March, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Monsanto's conduct, while reprehensible, does not warrant a ratio of that magnitude, particularly in the absence of evidence showing intentional concealment of a known or obvious safety risk," Chhabria wrote, per Reuters.

In the end, a lawyer for Hardeman—in remission from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma—called it "a major victory" since Bayer had sought to have the verdict thrown out entirely. Chhabria didn't cut the company any slack. "Monsanto deserves to be punished," he wrote, noting "the evidence at trial painted the picture of a company focused on attacking or undermining the people who raised concerns." Bayer, which has lost two other trial cases over the safety of Roundup, still plans to appeal on the basis that active ingredient glyphosate is "not carcinogenic." It's also appealing a verdict last August that found the weed killer contributed to Dewayne Johnson's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Jurors awarded $289 million to the groundskeeper, though the amount was later reduced to $78 million. Earlier this year, Monsanto lost a third jury verdict, that one for a staggering $2 billion. (More Roundup stories.)

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