Judge Upholds Monsanto Verdict, Cuts Award to $78 Million

Marco Green
October 24, 2018

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. "That has been done by many experts in many countries and they've all come to the same conclusion - that it's safe". Johnson's lawsuit was the first lawsuit to go to trial, and several more appear ready to start early next year.

Late Monday, a U.S. judge slashed more than $200 million off a damages award against Monsanto, which Bayer bought in June in one of Germany's biggest-ever corporate takeovers.

The jury had awarded $250 million in punitive damages and $39.25 million in compensatory damages to Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper and pest-control manager at Northern California school district who contracted cancer. She didn't explain her change of mind.

Some jurors were so upset by the prospect of having their verdict thrown out that they wrote to Bolanos, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Johnson says Roundup weed-killer caused his cancer.

Johnson must decide whether to accept the reduced award; if he does not, there will be a new trial exclusively considering punitive damages. He has until December 7 to decide.

In September 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found that the chemical was not a likely carcinogen to humans.

"Because of this, we will continue to vigorously defend our glyphosate-based products, " company spokesman Daniel Childs said.

However, in 2015, the cancer unit of the World Health Organisation classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

A San Francisco trial court decision also is not binding in any other court.

Johnson's case was fast-tracked due to his prognosis, and it could have lasting consequences for German multinational company Bayer, which completed its acquisition of Monsanto in June. "There just aren't enough data points to make a decision, " he said.

"Clearly this topic isn't going to go away, " UBS analyst Michael Leuchten wrote in a note to investors.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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