A California state court judge said she is “inclined” to significantly reduce a jury award given to an elderly couple who alleged that exposure to Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Alva and Alberta Pilliod won a $2 billion-plus verdict from an Alameda County Superior Court in May, but on review of post-trial motions, Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith said she would reduce the $2 billion in punitive damages to an amount 2-4 times the amount of the compensatory damages, which are now $55 million but could also be reduced.

The punitive damages award would still be about $220 million, which looks like the maximum the Pilliods could receive. The case, however, is far from over as Bayer, which owns Roundup-maker Monsanto, will appeal the verdict.

In her tentative ruling, Smith said she found “substantial evidence to support the jury’s findings that Roundup was a substantial factor” in causing both Pilliods’ cancers and that Roundup was defectively designed. 

She also said, quoting a previous court ruling in a separate Roundup case, “the degree of reprehensibility is sufficient to support a substantial award of punitive damages. The evidence supported a finding that Monsanto ‘continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public.’”

Monsanto/Bayer is facing more than 13,000 such cases nationwide, and has brought in new legal talent to advise on its efforts.

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