A member of the jury that awarded $80 million to a California man who blamed Monsanto Roundup for his cancer has come forward to defend the panel’s decision.
Plaintiff Edward Hardeman, 77, used Monsanto’s Roundup for nearly 30 years at his homes in California before learning he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.
In March, a jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, was a “substantial factor” in his cancer. Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto last year, was ordered to pay Hardeman $5 million in compensation for pain and suffering, plus an additional $75 million in punitive damages.
The German conglomerate denies glyphosate causes cancer and insists the jury’s decision was unwarranted. During a hearing last Tuesday, Bayer’s attorneys asked the Court to either dismiss the glyphosate cancer verdict in its entirety or toss Hardeman’s punitive award.
But according to Reuters, US. District Judge Vince Chhabria wasn’t persuaded by Bayer’s arguments, stating jurors had seen enough evidence to conclude Monsanto really didn’t care if glyphosate caused cancer, and instead was more interested in discrediting those who raised concerns.
“There was nothing suggesting that anybody at Monsanto viewed this issue objectively or with any consideration for the life of human people,” he told Bayer’s attorneys.
However, Judge Chhabria indicated he would cut punitive damages to comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings limiting such awards to a 9 to 1 ratio with compensatory damages. He also suggested compensatory damages might be cut as well, since Hardeman is now in complete remission and unlikely to experience the immense suffering he endured in the past.
At least one member of Hardeman’s jury attended last Tuesday’s hearing.
In a letter posted to the Court’s website on July 4th, that individual insisted the damage awards “were no accident” and reflected the jury’s “meticulous planning.” In urging Judge Chhabria to keep the glyphosate verdict intact, the juror also noted that higher punitive damages are sometimes permitted in extraordinary cases.
“Based on the evidence provided, ‘reprehensible’ is much too kind a word to describe the actions of the Monsanto employees,” the letter stated.
Bayer is currently defending more than 13,400 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States. Hardeman’s was the second of three cases heard by juries over the past year.
The first Roundup cancer trial concluded in August 2018, when a jury in San Francisco Superior Court awarded $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former groundskeeper with terminal cancer. However, the trial judge later reduced the judgement to $78 million, after finding the punitive award exceeded California’s constitutional limits.
The largest glyphosate cancer verdict came in May, when a jury in Alameda County Superior Court awarded $2 billion to an elderly couple. Avid home gardeners, both plaintiffs were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following decades of Roundup use.