Bayer shares are lower Tuesday, after a US judge upheld the ruling that RoundUp and Ranger Pro weed killers can cause cancer. However, she did drastically reduce the punitive damages awarded in the case, from $250 million, to $39 million.
By 0840 BST, Bayer shares were 6.62% lower at €71.47. The stock has been mixed in recent weeks.
Weed killer carcinogenic ruling stands
At a recent hearing, Judge Suzanne Bolanos said she would consider a retrial, regarding the punitive damages award in the case of Dwayne Johnson vs Monsanto.
However, Judge Bolanos said Monday that the initial decision by the jury, that two of Monsanto’s weed killer products – RoundUp and Ranger Pro – contain cancer-causing properties and that the company failed to inform the public, would stand.
She did maintain, however, that the plaintiff hadn’t done enough to prove clear evidence of malice on the part of Monsanto. Therefore, Judge Bolanos reduced the punitive damages portion of the award to $39 million, the same as the compensation award.
There is now a wait, while Johnson’s lawyers review the reduced award and decide whether they would advise their client to accept them, or push for a retrial on the punitive damages portion.
Bayer plans to appeal
The reduction of the punitive damages in the case represents some good news for German pharma giant Bayer, who purchased Monsanto earlier in 2018. However, with some 8,000 similar cases waiting to be heard, it would still prove costly for the business.
Bayer maintains the view that years of testing has proven glyphosate – the weed killer ingredient ruled to have carcinogenic properties in this case – is safe for human use and is not a cancer-causing element.
“The court’s decision to reduce the punitive damage award by more than $200 million is a step in the right direction, but we continue to believe that the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law and plan to file an appeal with the California Court of Appeal,” Bayer said in a statement.