Judge says she'll order new Monsanto trial

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Tue May 24 00:09:00 EAT 2016
Bayer offers $62bn for Monsanto stake

In March the US firm slashed its earnings forecast for 2016

This week has hosted the initial hearing to request a retrial of the Bayer case that was heard in August and ended with Bayer's Monsanto unit, ordered to pay some $289 million to Dewayne Johnson in punitive and compensatory damages. The evidence at trial was "more than sufficient to support an inference" that Johnson's cancer was caused by his exposure to Monsanto's herbicides, the attorneys said.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who oversaw the trial, heard arguments in court on Wednesday afternoon.

Former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson won the landmark case against Monsanto, claiming the company's popular weedkiller Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The jury in August determined that Roundup contributed to Johnson's cancer, and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of a potential health hazard. Judge Suzanne Bolanos wrote in the tentative ruling that Mr. Johnson had not proven the requisite bad intent required to support punitive damages and that she was inclined to eliminate them entirely or, in the alternative, to grant a new trial regarding punitive damages.

"Given the state of medical and scientific knowledge, there is no clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto acted with malice or oppression", Bolanos adds. That's basically when a judge in a civil case overrules the jury's decision.

Attorneys for the company say Johnson failed to prove that Roundup or similar herbicides caused his lymphoma, and presented no evidence that Monsanto executives were malicious in marketing Roundup. That included $1 million a year for future noneconomic damages for a healthy adult's life span of 33 years - a calculation that Monsanto argued the jury should have based on Johnson's actual life expectancy of less than two years.

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His attorney said Johnson took Wednesday's news fairly well.

Specifically, Judge Bolanos said Wisner's comments about the Monsanto board having champagne on ice as they awaited the level of damages, was not an acceptable part of his closing argument.

"The jury's verdict was wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis, including in-depth reviews by regulatory authorities in the USA and European Union, and approvals in 160 countries, which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic", Bayer said in a statement.

Johnson's lawsuit is among hundreds alleging Roundup caused cancer, but it was the first one to go to trial.

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