A USA judge has upheld a jury verdict against Bayer subsidiary Monsanto in a historic case regarding the cancer danger of some of its weed killer products, but slashed the punitive damages award. In a ruling handed down Monday (Oct. 22), San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos left DeWayne Johnson with less than half of the amount that he was originally awarded over the summer.
Bolanos previously said Johnson's attorneys failed to show Monsanto executives acted with malice, which is required for punitive damages.
Johnson must decide whether to accept the reduced award; if he does not, there will be a new trial exclusively considering punitive damages. "We continue to believe that the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law and plan to file an appeal with the California Court of Appeal".
Monsanto spokesperson Daniel Childs said that the company was pleased with the reduced reward but still planned to appeal the decision.
Monsanto, which is owned by German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, denies that Roundup causes cancer.
In a tentative ruling on October 11, Bolanos said it appeared the jurors overreached with their punitive damages award.
But in a tentative ruling on October 11, Bolanos said she was considering wiping out the US$250m judgment after finding no compelling evidence presented at trial that Monsanto employees ignored evidence that the weedkiller caused cancer.
Harvey Glick from the company's Singapore office said in a statement of the Roundup product.
Several jurors wrote to the judge asking her to respect their verdict, but legal experts said that should not have influenced the judge. Juror Robert Howard said the jury paid "studious attention" to the evidence and any decision to overturn its verdict would shake his confidence in the judicial system.
Johnson's lawsuit is among hundreds alleging Roundup caused cancer, but it was the first one to go to trial.