Jury’s $250 Million Punishment Against Monsanto Might Get Overturned

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson walks toward court during a brief break as the Monsanto trial continues in San Francisco California

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson walks toward court during a brief break as the Monsanto trial continues in San Francisco California

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, California, on August 10, 2018.

In its motions, Monsanto argued that Johnson's lawyers had failed to provide evidence that glyphosate, the key ingredient in its herbicide products, caused Johnson's cancer. Johnson is the first of more than 4,000 cancer patients to take Monsanto to trial.

Jurors unanimously found that Monsanto acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Dewayne Johnson's terminal illness. Earlier in the day, she issued a tentative ruling saying she meant to toss out the jury's $250 million punitive damage award and schedule a new trial on that issue.

In a tentative ruling, a San Francisco judge Wednesday granted a new trial in a case against pesticide manufacturer Monsanto brought by a cancer-stricken Vallejo man who was awarded hundreds of millions in damages.

Bolanos also said that the plaintiff hadn't offered enough proof that Monsanto's lack of detail on the potentially carcinogenic make up of its two products, was borne of malice or oppression, which is one of the requirements for securing punitive damages. Bolanos said that lead attorney for Johnson, Brent Wisner, had made comments in his closing argument that he'd been requested not to. That's basically when a judge in a civil case overrules the jury's decision.

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Now however, as Bayer put forward its motion for a retrial, Judge Bolanos said she is inclined to either order that retrial, or reduce the damages awarded in August.

The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, was the first among 8,700 people in the USA who have made similar cancer claims against Monsanto, which is now owned by Germany's Bayer.

Bayer, the company that recently acquired Monsanto, said it was pleased with the judge's tentative ruling.

A San Francisco jury's $289 million verdict in favor of a school groundskeeper who says Roundup weed killer caused his cancer will face its first court test.

"The jury's verdict was wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis, including in-depth reviews by regulatory authorities in the US and European Union, and approvals in 160 countries, which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic", Bayer said in a statement.

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