Posted by Erin Elizabeth | Oct 23, 2018
On Monday, more Monsanto dominos fell when San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos denied Big Ag/Pharma giant Monsanto’s request for a new trial and instead upheld the jury’s verdict that found their weed killer caused a groundskeeper’s cancer. (She also slashed the amount of money to be paid from $289 million to $78 million…unless DeWayne Johnson wants to demand a new trial.)
According to Diana McKinley, Johnson’s spokeswoman, DeWayne and his lawyers will review the decision before making the next step, “Although we believe a reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted and we are weighing the options, we are pleased the court did not disturb the verdict.” 2
Monsanto still plans to appeal the verdict. (We expect nothing less.)
“Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, bought Monsanto earlier this year for $63 billion, making it the biggest seed and agricultural chemical maker in the world. The company said it would appeal to the California Court of Appeal because they believe “the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law.”
The California verdict could open the floodgates for cancer-related lawsuits. Bayer maintains that glyphosate is safe for human use based on decades of scientific study and real-world use.”3 (Something we are counting on.)
After careful instruction, the jury awarded the punitive damages it did because they felt Monsanto had purposely ignored warnings and evidence that glyphosate causes cancer. But judge Bolanos said in her tentative ruling that the jury had overreached with their award. At that time she even announced that she would likely wipe out the judgment altogether.
“The judge said jurors are entitled to accept the conclusion of Johnson’s expert witness who said Roundup caused his cancer and reject the conclusions of Monsanto’s expert witnesses, who concluded there’s no proof the weed killer causes cancer.”4
We are so glad the verdict will stand. It really appeared for a moment as if someone had gotten to her. (Monsanto has certainly tried to sway opinions before.)
As you may remember, we wrote yesterday about the many jurors who were upset about the fact that Judge Bolanos would even consider reducing the award given or call for another trial after they had sat through weeks of testimony and implicitly obeyed her instructions (“I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial,” juror Gary Kitahata wrote. 5).
After spraying Roundup and a similar product at his job- for years- Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 at age 42.
While many government regulators have rejected a link between the weed killer’s active ingredient glyphosate and cancer, the chemical was labeled as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the IARC in March of 2015.
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