U.S. judge slashes Monsanto cancer victim’s payout by $55 million

The corporate logo of Bayer is seen at the headquarters building in Caracas. — Reuters pic

The corporate logo of Bayer is seen at the headquarters building in Caracas. — Reuters pic

Pesticide Roundup contains glyphosate which has been linked to cancer.

Shares prices of German Chemical conglomerate, Bayer AG, headquartered in Leverkusen, rose as much as 2.54 percent in pre-market trading to 59.83 euro per share on Tuesday, the 16th of July 2019, after a United States judge had trimmed punitive damages awarded to a California plaintiff to $20 million from previous $75 million, who blamed Monsanto's Roundup week killer was responsible for his cancer.

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.

"Judge Chhabria rejected every one of Monsanto's arguments to throw out the verdict and only reduced the punitive damage award based on his interpretation of the Constitution".

He had sued the company over the glyphosate weedkillers Roundup and Ranger Pro, in the first ever federal trial targeting its manufacturer for negligence.

A San Francisco jury determined Roundup caused a user to develop cancer and awarded him $75 million in punitive damages.

The agro-chemicals and drugs giant Bayer finalized the acquisition of the United States company Monsanto previous year for $63 billion.

Lawyers for Monsanto's German parent company, Bayer, called Chhabria's ruling "a step in the right direction" but argued anew that the evidence in the case did not support blaming Roundup for the cancer. He wrote in his ruling that the "evidence presented at trial about Monsanto's behavior betrayed a lack of concern about the risk that its product might be carcinogenic".

Bayer, which bought Monsanto past year for $63 billion, called Chhabria's decision "a step in the right direction", adding that it still plans to appeal.

Bayer stated the decision and damages award "conflict with each the load of the extensive science that helps the security of Roundup, and the conclusions of main health regulators within the USA and worldwide that glyphosate shouldn't be carcinogenic".

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.

Monsanto was initially ordered to pay $289 million to the groundskeeper, before the damages were reduced to $78.5 million.

A CNN investigation showed internal emails from Monsanto discussing communications with an EPA official.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, but is now in remission.

In most cases of lymphoma, the cause is unknown, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Hardeman case is one of thousands pending against Monsanto for which Bayer is liable after purchasing the company in June of 2018. More than 13,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits nationwide.

But Hardeman's case was in federal multidistrict litigation, or MDL.