A man who won an $80 million verdict over Monsanto Co.’s Roundup [in 2019] defended the award on appeal, including the jury’s original award of $75 million in punitive damages.
In a brief filed [March 16] before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the plaintiff’s lawyers defended U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria’s rulings as to the scientific evidence allowed at trial and insisted that federal law did not preempt claims that their client, Edwin Hardeman, got non-Hodgkin lymphoma after spraying Roundup, an herbicide, on his properties for 25 years.
In their own appeal, however, they challenged Chhabria’s decision to reduce the jury’s verdict to $25.3 million, particularly the $20 million in punitive damages.
Although Chhabria, of the Northern District of California, refused to toss punitive damages, citing Monsanto’s “reprehensible” conduct, he lowered the amount, which he considered “constitutionally impermissible,” to a 4:1 ratio to Hardeman’s compensatory damages.
On Dec. 13, Bayer, represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman, filed its Ninth Circuit appeal to reverse the verdict, which, it said, “defies both expert regulatory judgment and sound science.” It cited federal preemption, “serious legal errors” on causation, and Monsanto’s lack of alleged “reprehensible conduct” justifying punitive damages.