San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos denied Monsanto’s request for a new trial on Monday but cut the jury’s punitive damage award from $US250 million ($A353 million) to $US39 million.
The jury awarded the damages after it found that the St Louis-based agribusiness had purposely ignored warnings and evidence that its popular Roundup product causes cancer, including DeWayne Johnson’s lymphoma.
But in a tentative ruling on October 11, Bolanos said it appeared the jurors overreached with punitive damages. She said then that she was considering wiping out the $US250 million judgment after finding no compelling evidence presented at trial that Monsanto employees ignored evidence that the weed killer caused cancer.
Bolanos reversed course on Monday and said the jurors appeared to agree with Johnson’s expert witness, Dr Chadi Nahban, who concluded that Monsanto’s popular Roundup weed killer caused the groundskeeper’s cancer. She said Monsanto presented its own experts who disagreed with Nahban in a debate that was up to a jury to decide.
Some jurors were so upset at the prospect of having their verdict thrown out that they wrote to Bolanos, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial,” juror Gary Kitahata wrote.
Nonetheless, she said the $US250 million punitive damage award was too high and slashed it to $US39 million, the same amount the jury awarded Johnson for other damages.
Johnson’s lawsuit is among hundreds alleging Roundup caused cancer, but it was the first one to go to trial.