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Federal Judge Curtailed Damages Award Bayer AG by $25.27 Million

16 July 2019

The $80.27 million settlement that Bayer AG (BAYRY) was ordered to pay to a California man that claimed its Roundup weed killer caused his cancer has seen the award amount reduced to $25.27 million.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco previously said the US$75 million portion of the verdict meant to punish the company was too high based on legal precedent that punitive damages shouldn't be more than nine times bigger than compensatory damages. Chhabria reduced the punitive damages to $20 million - the maximum allowed under guidance supplied by the U.S. Supreme Court - while emphasizing that the jury's decision to award such damages was "reasonable". More than 13,000 farmers, landscapers, and home gardeners have sued Bayer and Monsanto, claiming Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is unsafe.

Hardeman testified at the trial of his lawsuit in March that he sprayed Roundup on poison oak and weeds on properties in Mendocino and Sonoma counties for 26 years. He also said the jury acted reasonably in awarding punitive damages. Moreover, because the jury was aware that Monsanto has repeatedly sold - and continues to sell - Roundup without any form of warning label, it was clear that Monsanto's "conduct involved repeated actions", rather than "an isolated incident", the judge wrote.

And, the judge noted that no evidence was presented showing that Monsanto "was in fact aware that glyphosate caused cancer but concealed it, thus distinguishing this case from the many cases adjudicating the conduct of the tobacco companies".

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Bayer took control of Roundup after it bought agrochemical giant Monsanto for $63 billion last summer.

The verdict and damages "conflict with both the weight of the extensive science that supports the safety of Roundup, and the conclusions of leading health regulators in the USA and around the world that glyphosate is not carcinogenic", Bayer said in a statement, adding that it plans to appeal.

Monsanto, now owned by Bayer AG of Germany, is facing more than 13,000 Roundup lawsuits filed in USA federal and state courts.

"We're happy that the choose denied Monsanto's movement to throw out the decision, and acknowledged that Monsanto deserved to be punished", Jennifer Moore, a lawyer for Hardeman, mentioned in an interview.

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The company said the "the weight of extensive science. supports the safety of Roundup".

The judge explained that a motion of this type could only be granted if he was convinced from the evidence that the jury was incorrect in its original verdict.

The case is In re Roundup Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 16-md-02741.

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Federal Judge Curtailed Damages Award Bayer AG by $25.27 Million