Bayer shares are lower Friday, reversing earlier gains, as the pharmaceuticals firm awaits news on a possible retrial in the Monsanto RoundUp case, in the US.
San Francisco Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, took exception to comments in the closing argument of the lawyer representing the plaintiff, to such an extent that a retrial or punitive damages reduction is a real possibility.
By 1150 BST, Bayer shares were 0.65% lower at €76.82. The stock moved higher Thursday and also opened in the green, Friday.
Bayer’s RoundUp case
This week has hosted the initial hearing to request a retrial of the Bayer case that was heard in August and ended with Bayer’s Monsanto unit, ordered to pay some $289 million to Dewayne Johnson in punitive and compensatory damages.
With a line of other potential cases waiting to be heard over the same carcinogenic claims of two of Monsanto’s weed killer products, that was a major blow to Bayer.
Now however, as Bayer put forward its motion for a retrial, Judge Bolanos said she is inclined to either order that retrial, or reduce the damages awarded in August. Bolanos said that lead attorney for Johnson, Brent Wisner, had made comments in his closing argument that he’d been requested not to.
Champagne on ice
Specifically, Judge Bolanos said Wisner’s comments about the Monsanto board having champagne on ice as they awaited the level of damages, was not an acceptable part of his closing argument.
“If the damages number isn’t significant enough, champagne corks will pop,” Wisner said of the Monsanto board. Judge Bolanos said Wisner’s comments could prove “sufficiently prejudicial” to require a retrial in the case.
Bolanos also said that the plaintiff hadn’t offered enough proof that Monsanto’s lack of detail on the potentially carcinogenic make up of its two products, was borne of malice or oppression, which is one of the requirements for securing punitive damages.