A California state court judge has significantly reduced damages awarded to a couple whose non-Hodgkin lymphoma was blamed on Roundup exposure, cutting their overall award from more than $2 billion to $86.7 million.

In an order Thursday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith found that while Monsanto’s conduct was “reprehensible,” the punitive damages of $1 billion each for Alva and Alberta Pilliod were unconstitutionally high.

Under Smith’s order, Alva Pilliod would receive $30.7 million and his wife, Alva, would receive about $56 million. The May 13 jury verdict totaled about $2.055 billion, but Smith indicated in a tentative ruling last week that she would be cutting the punitive damages award considerably.

Bayer, which owns Monsanto, said it would appeal the verdict on multiple grounds to the California Court of Appeal, “including that the causation determination and failure to warn claims cannot stand given that leading health regulators around the world have repeatedly concluded that Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”

The company cited epidemiological studies that found “there was no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and NHL overall in real-world use when adjusted for the use of other pesticides.”

Smith said in her order that “there was substantial evidence to support the jury's findings on the failure to warn claims. There is evidence that Monsanto was in possession of evidence that glyphosate might be hazardous well before the Pilliods were diagnosed and well before they stopped using Roundup.”

“This a major victory for the Pilliods,” plaintiffs’ attorney Brent Wisner said. “The judge rejected every argument Monsanto raised and sustained a very substantial verdict. 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.” 

Two other verdicts have been reduced following the jury trials. Schools groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson’s award went from $289 million to $78.5 million, while Edwin Hardeman’s award dropped from $80 million to $25.3 million. Bayer/Monsanto is appealing the Johnson decision and both sides are considering appeals in the Hardeman case.

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