California Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith announced Thursday that she would not uphold the $2.055 billion jury verdict set to be awarded to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, claiming the decided amount was excessive and unconstitutional.
The judge’s order now proposes Roundup’s parent company, Bayer, pay the Pilliods $69 million in punitive damages and $17 million in compensatory damages, a far cry from the May decision of $2 billion and $55 million, respectively.
Brent Wisner, the Pilliods’ lawyer, blasted the judge’s decision and plans to file an appeal if his clients do not accept the proposed award.
“While we believe the reduction in damages does not fairly capture the pain and suffering experienced by Alva and Alberta, the overall result is a big win,” explained Wisner in a Friday statement obtained by Reuters.
Bayer applauded Smith’s order, but also announced Thursday that they are not satisfied and intend to file an appeal. However, the company’s most recent request to have all punitive damages dropped was denied.
“We continue to believe that the verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial and conflict with the extensive body of reliable science and conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide that confirms glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” the German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company told Reuters.
According to court documents, the California-based couple, married for over 50 years, began using Roundup in 1970s and continued using the Monsanto-produced weed killer up until a few years ago.
Alva Pilliod was diagnosed in 2011 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that eventually spread to his pelvis and spine. Four years later, his wife Alberta was similarly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma brain cancer.
In 2018, some 8,000 lawsuits were filed against Monsanto, according to a class action lawsuit. The total has since ballooned to over 13,400 suits on behalf of those who used or were simply exposed to the product.
The Pilliods, like the thousands of others looking to have their day in court, claim that Roundup’s manufacturer not only was aware that the carcinogens in their herbicide cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but also that Monsanto paid off researchers and regulators for decades to hide the evidence from the public worldwide.
Smith’s Thursday order explicitly rejected Bayer’s argument that they could cite hundreds of studies and statements countering the thousands of claims against them.
Monsanto was acquired by Bayer in June 2018, some two months before the conclusion of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Co., the first cancer-related case about Roundup to go to trial before a jury. Though the jury’s final verdict looked to award Johnson $289.2 million in August, it too was slashed, and the plaintiff received $78.5 million.
Bayer maintains that Roundup is safe for human use.