Judge Says She Will Overturn Jury Conviction of Monsanto and Nullify $250 Million Award in Damages Over Glyphosate Injuries
A San Francisco judge cast doubt recently on a jury’s $289 million damage award to a former Bay Area groundskeeper who was diagnosed with cancer after frequently spraying school grounds with a widely used weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co. Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos said in a tentative ruling that she would likely overturn $250 million in punitive damages because there was no convincing evidence that Monsanto had knowingly manufactured a harmful product or acted “despicably” toward the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Bolanos did not announce a final ruling, but showed little indication during the hearing that she was reconsidering her tentative decision on punitive damages. “I’m not following your argument,” she told Miller at one point after the lawyer said Monsanto had failed to properly test its product or study its effects. “You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who is considering Monsanto’s requests to reduce the damages or overturn the entire verdict. “I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.” Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge that the jury had paid “studious attention” to the evidence, closely followed Bolanos’ instruction and deliberated for several days. The possibility that “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.