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Plaintiff accepts reduction of $289 million glyphosate jury award

A California groundskeeper who recently won a court case finding that exposure to glyphosate weedkillers caused his terminal cancer has accepted a reduction in his jury award.

A California groundskeeper who recently won a court case finding that exposure to glyphosate weedkillers caused his terminal cancer has accepted a reduction in his jury award. He will not contest a judge's decision to cut a $289 million jury award against Bayer legacy company Monsanto to $78 million.

Attorneys representing Dewayne Johnson last week submitted his decision to California Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos. They voiced frustration with her ruling but noted that it did preserve the jury's finding that Monsanto had failed to warn the plaintiff of the cancer risks from its glyphosate-based herbicides.

The jury's verdict sent a "strong message to deter Monsanto's conduct" that caused Mr Johnson's non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL), according to attorneys with the Baum Hedlund law firm.

"However, to hopefully achieve a final resolution within his lifetime, Mr Johnson has accepted the punitive damages reduction suggested by Judge Bolanos," the attorneys said. "We expect [Bayer] to appeal, notwithstanding, so we will address all issues regarding the verdict and the amount of damages at the Court of Appeals."

At issue is a decision by Judge Bolanos last month to cut the $250 million in punitive damages awarded to Mr Johnson to $39 million. She left intact the $39 million he was awarded in compensatory damages.

The 12-member jury issued its ruling in August, unanimously siding with Mr Johnson after a six-week trial. The 46-year old was a groundskeeper for a Solano County school district from 2012 -2016 and frequently sprayed then Monsanto's glyphosate products.

Mr Johnson was diagnosed in 2014 with terminal NHL  -- a type of blood cancer -- and alleged his illness was caused by his exposure to the Monsanto herbicides. The jury agreed that the company had failed to warn him that their pesticides could cause cancer and concluded that it had shown malice in downplaying evidence of the risks.

In its bid to vacate the ruling or be afforded a new trial, new Monsanto owner Bayer rejected the claim that its business had done anything wrong and said that the scientific evidence of glyphosate's carcinogenicity "falls far short of the sufficient and substantial evidence" required to sustain the jury verdict. The company also argued that the damages award was excessive and unfair.

Bayer has indicated it will appeal the jury verdict and intends to staunchly defend the safety of its glyphosate products. The company faces claims from some 8,700 plaintiffs in federal and state courts who contend that they have developed cancer because of exposure to Monsanto's herbicides.

 

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