A court in California has upheld a verdict against Bayer’s Monsanto, but the decision may be a bit cheaper for the company.
In August, a jury found that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killers—Roundup is the best known—had caused cancer in Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper who regularly used the substance. The original verdict sent Bayer stocks tumbling, and on Monday they fell a further 8% on the news that San Francisco’s Superior Court of California upheld the company’s liability.
It may not be all bad news for Bayer (BAYRY) though. Judge Suzanne Bolanos said she would be willing to reduce the punitive damages owed to Johnson, from $250 million to $39 million, if his lawyers agreed. That would leave Bayer on the hook for $78 million, in compensatory and punitive damages.
Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, bought Monsanto earlier this year for $63 billion, making it the biggest seed and agricultural chemical maker in the world. The company said it would appeal to the California Court of Appeal because they believe “the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law.”
The California verdict could open the floodgates for cancer-related lawsuits. Bayer maintains that glyphosate is safe for human use based on decades of scientific study and real-world use.