California Supreme Court Will Not Hear Monsanto’s Appeal of $20M Ruling

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court denied a request from Monsanto and its parent company Bayer AG to hear an appeal in the decision requiring the company to pay $20.6 million to a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Lee Johnson, who claimed that his use of Roundup and exposure to the chemicals in it gave him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

A jury in August 2018 decided that Monsanto should pay $250 million in punitive damages and $39 million in compensatory damages. The amount was decreased on an appeal to $78 million by a judge and later to $20.6 million by the appeals court. 

“We are disappointed with the Court’s decision not to review the intermediate appeals court’s decision in Johnson and will consider our legal options for further review of this case,” Bayer said in a statement according to U.S. Right to Know.

In August, California’s First Appellate District Court denied requests from both parties for a rehearing in the case because of the disputed evidence of the plaintiff’s life expectancy. The court awarded $4 million in this for future suffering, using a previous decision for an award of $1 million per year of life. Johnson and his lawyers argued that he could have a longer lifespan, and should be awarded a larger sum. Monsanto, however, argued that the sum was too large because some medical professionals had said his lifespan would likely be shorter. At that same time the court did modify wording of their order to reflect doubt for the expected life-expectancy of the plaintiff. 

Johnson’s lawyers, The Miller Firm, told the media that this is Monsanto’s “last attempt to skirt responsibility.” The firm stated “Multiple judges have now affirmed the jury’s unanimous finding that Monsanto maliciously concealed Roundup’s cancer risk and caused Mr. Johnson to develop a deadly form of cancer. The time has come for Monsanto to end its baseless appeals and pay Mr. Johnson the money it owes him.”

The lawsuit is among the first of many alleging that Roundup has caused cancer in its users, or has the potential to cause damaging health effects because of the chemical glyphosate. Bayer agreed earlier this year to pay $10 billion to settle claims about Roundup, many of which are being heard in a consolidated Northern District of California Lawsuit