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26 Jul, 2019 08:29

US judge cuts Monsanto cancer victims’ award from $2 billion to $86 million

US judge cuts Monsanto cancer victims’ award from $2 billion to $86 million

A California judge on Thursday reduced a jury’s $2 billion punitive damages award for a couple who blamed Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup for their cancer. The award was excessive and unconstitutional, the judge ruled.

In the United States court, the jury is usually responsible for determining the amount of damages to award in a personal injury case. However, many states have laws that limit the amount of damages so that even if a jury awards excessive damages, it can be reduced by a higher court.

The plaintiffs, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, will receive around $17 million in compensation and $69 million in punitive damages, said Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith. That is down from $55 million and $2 billion, respectively.

German drug company Bayer, which bought Monsanto last year for $63 billion, called the decision a step in the right direction, but added that it would file an appeal.

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“We continue to believe that the verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial and conflict with the extensive body of reliable science and conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide that confirms glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” Bayer said in a statement.

Plaintiffs claim Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that Monsanto for decades tried to influence scientists and regulators to bury cancer evidence.

According to Judge Smith, in the case of the Pilliods, “there was clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto made efforts to impede, discourage, or distort scientific inquiry and the resulting science.”

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Bayer is facing more than 13,000 US lawsuits on the glyphosate-based product’s potential health risks but the company denies those allegations.

The drug company has lost three consecutive cases in California courts. However, last week another Californian cancer victim’s punitive damages award was also slashed because it “went beyond constitutional limits set by the US Supreme Court.”

In April, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirmed that the active ingredient found in Roundup is safe.

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