CALI PANEL AFFIRMS $87M ROUNDUP AWARD AGAINST MONSANTO
A California appellate court rejected Monsanto’s bid to overturn an $87 million award and trial win for a couple who claimed glyphosate in Roundup weedkiller gave them cancer, with one judge largely concurring but dissenting as to the “grossly excessive” punitive damages.
The majority backed the trial judge’s actions in the case from Alberta and Alva Pilliod against the Bayer AG subsidiary, rejecting Monsanto’s argument that improper actions by the Pilliod’s attorneys impacted the outcome of the trial and rejecting its framing of the trial generally.
Monsanto had “little to say” about the testimony of the Pilliod’s causation experts, which supports the verdict, the majority said, and it failed to include fair summaries of their testimony.
Jurors awarded the Pilliods $2 billion in May 2019, finding that Roundup was likely a significant cause of their illnesses. Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith slashed the sum to $86.7 million after finding the punitive damages were too high, though she noted some were warranted given the company’s “reprehensible” efforts to impede scientific inquiry into glyphosate.
The Pilliods’ case is one of three to have reached a jury so far. Former groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson won a $289 million verdict in August 2018 — later reduced to $20.6 million. Bayer announced in March that it would not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review that verdict. Ed Hardeman netted an $80 million verdict in March 2019, later cut to $25 million, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed that judgment in May.