Bayer AG won a ruling slashing a jury verdict to US$25.3 million from US$80.3 million in the second case to go to trial over claims that exposure to its Roundup weed killer causes cancer.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco previously said the US$75 million portion of the verdict intended 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.
The judge said in an order Monday that while the jury’s decisions to award punitive damages was “reasonable,” the size of the award is “constitutionally impermissible.” The judge on Friday rejected the company’s request for a new trial.
The German company has vowed to keep defending its popular weed killer after losing three trials since last summer, when it acquired Monsanto Co., which started making Roundup in the 1970s.
The case was brought by Edwin Hardeman, who used the herbicide on his large plot of land in Sonoma County, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. As with many of the other 13,400 consumers suing Bayer, Hardeman alleged that his years of exposure to the chemical caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bayer is scheduled for a fourth trial this summer in St. Louis, where Monsanto was based.
Chhabria is handling the collection of hundreds of federal suits over Roundup. In May, he appointed mediator Ken Feinberg to try to work out a settlement.
The case is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2741, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).