Monsanto Verdict Stands, Damages Reduced

On Monday, Bayer AG unit Monsanto was held responsible, by a U.S. judge, for a man’s terminal cancer.

In San Francisco´s Superior Court of California, the compensatory damages award will be cut to $39 million. Bayer presented a petition to the California Court of Appeals, claiming that the evidence was not backed up during the trial.

Monsanto denied the accusations and requested that the original $289 million judgement be dismissed or new trial held.

RoundUp and Ranger Pro, two of the company´s glyphosate-based weed-killers, were found by the jury to have triggered the plaintiff’s cancer.

Monsanto faces more than 8,000 similar complaints in the United States and that news has helped push the stock done over 10%.

Bayer, which is based in Germany, bought Monsanto for $63 billion and claims that scientific research for decades shows the use of glyphosate, is harmless to humans.

On Monday, the plaintiff’s lawyers debated on whether to accept the reduced award or retry the portion under punitive damages. The lawyers claim that they overwhelmed the jury with all the evidence they presented.

Since California´s constitution does not allow for a higher award, the amount of disciplinary damages is restricted. Depending on whether the plaintiff agrees to take the lower damages, the complete amount would be no higher than $78 million from Monsanto splitting the damaged equally between punitive and compensatory.

On Monday, the judge’s decision was a complete turnaround from a ruling announced early that she had issued October 10. The judge said in the first trial that she was thinking about requesting a new trial for punitive damages, claiming the plaintiff did not offer strong and substantial evidence against Monsanto´s for oppression or malice, which is a prerequisite for allowing disciplinary damages.

On August 10, after the tentative ruling, five of the jurors sent letters to the judge, asking her to support their decision. Although the judge did not acknowledge these letters directly on Monday, she did say the jury is entitled to reach its own conclusions.

In September of 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that the chemicals in glyphosate were not likely to be carcinogens to humans. In 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s cancer unit classified the chemical as likely carcinogenic to humans.