Northern California Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Federal judge to reduce damages awarded in Roundup verdict

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By Rich Peters | Jul 6, 2019


SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge said that he would reduce the amount of punitive damages awarded to Edwin Hardeman in his case against Monsanto decided in March.

Hardeman claimed that glyphosate, the key chemical in Roundup weed killer, played a substantial factor in his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). A jury awarded the Bay Area man $5 million in compensatory and $75 million in punitive damages on March 27.

However, Judge Vincent Chhabria recently stated that he will reduce the punitive damage award based on a U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages ratio must not exceed a 9 to 1 ratio. Chhabria also noted that he may lower the compensatory total based on the fact that Hardeman is now in remission from his cancer.

“It’s quite clear that under the Constitution I’m required to reduce the punitive damages award and it’s just a question of how much,” Chhabria said during a court hearing, as reported by Reuters.

Bayer, which purchased Monsanto last year, called for a reversal of the verdict after its ruling and has stood firm in its position that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

“We continue to believe strongly in the extensive body of reliable science that supports the safety of Roundup and on which regulators around the world continue to base their own independent and favorable assessments including EPA’s determination at the end of April that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” Bayer said in a post-trial motion statement.

“Important decisions about the safety and efficacy of these products – whether in courts of law or elsewhere — should be made based on science that is reliable and not ‘shaky,’ and is generally accepted in the scientific community versus work that ‘barely inched over the line.’ Our customers have relied on these products and placed their trust in this science for more than 40 years, and we remain confident that the science will ultimately be determinative in this litigation.”

Judge Chhabria said he would issue a final ruling on the damages by the end of next week. Just last week Monsanto filed a post-trial motion in a separate case across the bay, asking an Alameda County Superior Court judge to reverse a $2 billion jury verdict in the cancer case of Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

More than 13,000 plaintiffs nationwide have filed similar lawsuits claiming that Roundup is linked to their cancer.

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