A California appeals court on Monday upheld the conviction of Monsanto, sued by a gardener with cancer he attributes to Roundup weedkiller, but once again significantly reduced damages to be paid to the plaintiff.
In August 2018, a popular jury in the San Francisco court concluded that Monsanto had acted “maliciously” in hiding the potentially carcinogenic nature of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and that this general public weedkiller and its professional equivalent RangerPro had “considerably Contributed to the illness of Dewayne Johnson, 48, who is terminally ill.
Sentenced to pay $ 289 million in damages, the agrochemical giant then announced its intention to appeal, while at the same time asking San Francisco judge Suzanne Bolanos to organize a new trial.
In October 2018, Ms. Bolanos maintained this verdict on the merits, but sharply revised down the compensation, to $ 78.5 million.
The plaintiff had accepted this reduction “in order to avoid the weight of a new trial”, “hoping to see during his lifetime a final resolution” of the case, explained the lawyers of this father of two boys.
On Monday, the magistrates of the California Court of Appeal maintained that Roundup had indeed caused Mr Johnson’s cancer, contrary to what Bayer claims.
However, they reduced the damages to a total of $ 20.4 million.
One of Mr Johnson’s attorneys called the move “another big victory,” attributing the further reduction in punitive damages to an “anomaly” in California law.
Mr Johnson had used Roundup and RangerPro extensively in his work, for two years, starting in 2012.
The lawsuit was the first to put Monsanto’s glyphosate products on trial, against which thousands of legal proceedings have been launched in the United States alone, according to the German group Bayer, which bought it.
Bayer announced last June that it was prepared to pay more than ten billion dollars to put an end to these lawsuits.
Glyphosate was classified in 2015 as “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization (WHO).