Roundup: American Justice Significantly Reduces The Amount Monsanto Must Pay
The fine was reduced from $75 million to $20 million, but the judge did not touch the damages for the plaintiff.
A US judge on Monday slashed punitive damages a jury ordered Monsanto to pay in a Roundup cancer trial, saying the sum was too high despite the company's "reprehensible" conduct.
US District Court Judge Vince Chhabria denied a request by Monsanto for a new trial, but ruled that the $75 million in punitive damages was "constitutionally impermissible."
Chhabria reduced to $20 million the amount Monsanto is to pay as punishment in the case which is one of more than 13,000 lawsuits related to the weedkiller launched in the US.
Rejection Of A New Trial
However, the judge endorsed the approximately $5 million in compensatory damages that Monsanto was ordered to pay the plaintiff, Edwin Hardemanan American retiree who attacked the group after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015.
"Based on the evidence that came in at trial, Monsanto deserves to be punished," Chhabria said in his ruling.
"The evidence easily supported a conclusion that Monsanto was more concerned with tamping down safety inquiries and manipulating public opinion than it was with ensuring its product is safe."
But "the jury's punitive damages award was approximately 15 times the size of the compensatory damages award," Chhabria said. "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."
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 cancer. Bayer planned to appeal the verdict to a higher court.
Edwin Hardeman's defense, on the contrary, welcomed the judge's rejection of Monsanto's arguments to have the cancel the trial.
Many Trials In Progress
The fact that Chhabria rejected Monsanto's arguments for throwing out the verdict and, instead, reduced the damages award on legal grounds was hailed as a major victory by Jennifer Moore, an attorney on Hardeman's legal team.
"For decades Monsanto has lied about the safety of Roundup and undermined any effort to inform the public that Roundup causes cancer," Moore said. "The jury's verdict should stand."
Monsanto faces thousands of other proceedings in the United States. At another trial in May, the group was sentenced by a jury in Oakland, near San Francisco, to pay $2 billion to a couple in their seventies with cancer.
Konbini with AFP
By Chayma Soltani, published on 16/07/2019