Two months ago, a jury awarded Johnson $39.2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $250 million in punitive damages after determining that Monsanto acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Johnson's illness. The evidence at trial was "more than sufficient to support an inference" that Johnson's cancer was caused by his exposure to Monsanto's herbicides, the attorneys said.
But even if the judge denies Monsanto's request to drop the $250 million punishment, "the Court would grant a new trial on the grounds of insufficiency of the evidence to justify the award for punitive damages", Bolanos wrote.
Specifically, Judge Bolanos said Wisner's comments about the Monsanto board having champagne on ice as they awaited the level of damages, was not an acceptable part of his closing argument. "The court also is considering Monsanto's motions for a new trial, JNOV and reduction of the compensatory damages".
Monsanto's attorney George Lombardi argued for a new trial, saying the comparing Monsanto to the tobacco industry was intentional and inaccurate.
"We have a jury that got it right and did it right", argued Johnson's lawyer, Michael Miller.
Bottles of Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto, are displayed on a store shelf in St. Louis, on June 28, 2011.
A judge on Wednesday was mulling whether to throw out a jury order that agrochemical giant Monsanto pay $290 million (Sh29.2 billion) in damages for not warning a groundskeeper that its weed killer product Roundup might cause cancer.
San Francisco's Superior Court of California Judge Suzanne Bolanos issued a tentative motion granting Bayer a new trial.
In a written ruling, Bolanas said the plaintiff "presented no clear and convincing evidence of malice or oppression to support an award of punitive damages". She wrote that he did not provide any evidence that Monsanto employees believed that exposure to the product caused his lymphoma. She said the evidence wasn't there to award $250 million in punitive damages.
Former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson won the landmark case against Monsanto, claiming the company's popular weedkiller Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Bolanos was not expected to rule immediately.
"Mr. Johnson's story is tragic and could have been prevented if Monsanto actually showed a modicum of care about human safety", Johnson's lawyers also responded in court documents cited by the AP.