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For Ailing Couple, a $1.9B Disappointment Over Roundup

Judge cuts award due to Alva and Alberta Pilliod from Bayer from $2B to $86.7M
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2019 9:42 AM CDT
In this Feb. 24, 2019, file photo, containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

(Newser) – If $2 billion-plus seems like an astonishing amount to award in a lawsuit involving Roundup weed killer, a California judge just agreed. In May, a jury awarded $1 billion each in punitive damages to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a husband and wife in their 70s who say they used the Monsanto herbicide now owned by Bayer on their lawn for 35 years, and that it caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, per the Wall Street Journal. They were also awarded $55 million in compensatory damages. On Thursday, however, Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith in Oakland cut that amount down substantially, to $86.7 million in total, calling the original $2 billion in punitive damages excessive and unconstitutional, Reuters reports.

This development comes after a similar slashing earlier this month by another California judge, who cut damages owed to Edwin Hardeman by Bayer from $80 million to $25 million. Hardeman is currently in remission from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he says was caused by Roundup. Bayer—which unsuccessfully tried to get Smith to completely strike the punitive damages award to the Pilliods, claiming studies have shown Roundup is safe—says it's appealing both of these cases, plus that of Dewayne Johnson, also afflicted with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and whose original $289 million award was reduced to $78 million. (Read more Roundup stories.)

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