A recent California court case that found Monsanto guilty and awarded punitive damages of more than US$250 million is one step closer to being put to a re-trial, after superior court judge Suzanne Bolanos gave a tentative ruling to grant the company’s motion for a new trial.
The trial at issue centres on California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson who alleges exposure to Roundup caused his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Back in August, the jury ruled in favour of Johnson, and awarded total damages of US$289 million.
This past week, Judge Bolanos held a hearing to sort through several motions put forward by Bayer’s legal team (Bayer now being the owner of Monsanto). While she has yet to announce her final ruling, the judge indicated that she may grant re-trial, or may vacate the punitive damages award based on insufficient evidence should re-trial not be granted. (Read the court documents here).
As RealAgriculture reported shortly after the verdict was announced, the level of punitive damages was seen as surprising by the legal community, and common thought that these damages would either be significantly reduced or eliminated entirely. Punitive damages are awarded when there is malice intended by the defendant — in this case, it was argued that Monsanto knew its product caused cancer and did not adequately warn Johnson of the risks.