Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

California judge will order new trial in $289M Roundup award

Bottles of Roundup herbicide a product of Monsanto are displayed on a store shelf in St. Louis Bottles of Roundup herbicide a product of Monsanto are displayed on a store shelf in St. Louis
Jean Garcia | 13 October, 2018, 23:53

Two months ago, a jury awarded Johnson $39.2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $250 million in punitive damages after determining that Monsanto acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Johnson's illness. Johnson is the first of more than 4,000 cancer patients to take Monsanto to trial.

Litzenburg said Johnson is still expecting to get $39 million in compensatory damages, though he "hasn't seen a dime" of that yet because that award is being appealed by Monsanto.

Lawyers for both sides are arguing in court Wednesday whether the improper arguments entitled Monsanto to a new trial.

Monsanto's attorney George Lombardi argued for a new trial, saying the comparing Monsanto to the tobacco industry was intentional and inaccurate. Johnson's attorney Michael Miller argued that the judge properly instructed the jury to disregard the comparison and to throw out their verdict because of the argument is too severe of a punishment.

The judge is deciding whether to toss out the jury's verdict order a new trial. (Jeff Roberson/AP File Photo)1:55 p.m.

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A California judge is reportedly considering slashing the $289 million award to the cancer victim who repeatedly used Monsanto's weed-killer product Roundup while working as a school groundskeeper.

Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who oversaw the trial, has the power to overturn the verdict, reduce the award amount or order a new trial.

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. However, Bolanos in her tentative noted that the plaintiff had failed to provide evidence that any Monsanto employee believed exposure to its glyphosate -based products would cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She said the evidence wasn't there to award $250 million in punitive damages. It isn't clear when the judge may finalize the ruling, issued ahead of a court hearing Wednesday. Attorneys for the company say Johnson failed to prove that Roundup or similar herbicides caused his lymphoma and presented no evidence that Monsanto executives were malicious in marketing Roundup.

"Mr. Johnson's story is tragic and could have been prevented if Monsanto actually showed a modicum of care about human safety", Johnson's lawyers also responded in court documents cited by the AP.

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