Even as Bayer AG got a jury verdict slashed to $25.3 million from $80.3 million in a California case alleging exposure to its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, the judge who made the cut found the company's behavior "reprehensible".
Despite Bayer's arguments, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria maintained that the $5.27 million in compensatory damages awarded by a jury supported the evidence brought against Bayer for Hardeman's claims. Vince Chhabria, a U.S. district judge, cut that figure to about $20 million, determining the original amount was too high relative to the $5.3 million in compensatory damages and therefore "constitutionally impermissible", according to Reuters . "While Monsanto repeatedly intones that it stands by the safety of its product, the evidence at trial painted the picture of a company focused on attacking or undermining the people who raised concerns, to the exclusion of being an objective arbiter of Roundup's safety", Judge Chhabria said in his ruling. He additionally mentioned the jury acted moderately in awarding punitive damages.
"Monsanto's conduct, while reprehensible, does not warrant a ratio of that magnitude, particularly in the absence of evidence showing intentional concealment of a known or obvious safety risk", Chhabria wrote.
Hardeman mentioned he used Roundup for a few years beginning within the 1980s to deal with poison oak and weeds on his property.
Hardeman claims that glyphosate, the key chemical in Roundup, played a substantial factor in his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).
"The Court's decision to reduce the punitive damage award is a step in the right direction, as constitutional limitations and controlling precedent dictate that excessive damage awards like those in this case be reduced".
However, Judge Chhabria stressed that the "metaphorical jury is still out" on whether glyphosate causes National Hockey League, and argued that the approval of the product from multiple worldwide agencies "diminishes - to a degree - Monsanto's culpability".
Roundup was long manufactured by Monsanto Co, which Bayer now owns.
"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.
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.
Judge Chhabria had many harsh words for Monsanto, which was purchased a year ago by Bayer AG.
The case is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2741, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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