A California appeals court has refused to overturn a verdict in favour of a school caretaker who claimed the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer.
Dewayne Johnson had been awarded $289.2m (£228.4m) in August 2018 after a San Francisco jury was told that the chemical was responsible for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The award was cut by the trial judge to $78.5m (£62m) and in the decision by the California appeals court this week, it was reduced further to $20.5m (£16.2m).
The appeals court said Mr Johnson had offered “abundant” evidence that glyphosate and other Roundup ingredients were responsible for his cancer.
But the payout had to be reduced because state law did not allow damages for a shortened life expectancy.
In a statement, Bayer AG called the reduction of the award a “step in the right direction”, but added that the verdict was inconsistent with the evidence and the law.
The company may yet appeal to the California Supreme Court.
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Mr Johnson’s lawyer R Brent Wisner said the decision on the verdict was another victory, but regarding the cut in damages, he added: “Hopefully, when this issue gets before the California Supreme Court, we can change this irrational law.”
Mr Johnson’s case is not part of Bayer’s deal announced in June where it agreed to pay up to $10.9bn to settle nearly 100,000 lawsuits in the US which linked Roundup to cancer.
At the time, Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann said: “It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business.”
Bayer inherited liability two years ago when it bought Monsanto, makers of Roundup.
But the German drugs and pesticides company has always denied that glyphosate is dangerous, saying on Monday: “We continue to stand strongly behind the safety and utility of Roundup.”
Monsanto started producing Roundup in 1974 and it has been sold in more than 160 countries.
The formulation is no longer protected by patent and it remains available.