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US: Judge criticizes Monsanto, but lowers Roundup damage award

The judge in the first federal court trial of lawsuits by cancer victims who used Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide criticized the company’s apparent indifference to health and safety Monday but said he was legally required to reduce a jury’s damage award.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco lowered the award from $80.2 million to $25.2 million for a Sonoma County man who sprayed the weed-killer on his property for more than 26 years before becoming ill.

Chhabria had refused on Friday to overturn the jury’s March verdict that Monsanto’s product was a likely cause of Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a sometimes-fatal form of cancer. On Monday, Chhabria said jurors were justified in awarding damages to Hardeman, including punitive damages for the company’s “despicable” conduct, but had gone well beyond the constitutional limits that the U.S. Supreme Court has established for punishment in such cases.

Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle (Bob Egelko)

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