Learning that a judge may overturn their historic decision to hold the chemical company Monsanto-Bayer accountable for manufacturing cancer-causing weedkillers, several jurors are demanding that their verdict in a case decided in August be upheld.
Gary Kitahata and Robert Howard are among the jurors who unanimously found that Monsanto was liable for $289 million in damages, to be paid to former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after spending years using Monsanto’s products at his job.
In two separate letters written in recent days, Kitahata and Howard appealed to California Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos this week after she announced her consideration of a retrial and indicated she might overturn nearly all of the damages the jury awarded to Johnson.
“We hope the judge in this case will not be pressured by Monsanto-Bayer, but will instead respect the jury’s decision and rule in favor of public health, not corporate profits.” —Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association
While Bolanos argued the plaintiff’s legal team did not prove Monsanto knew about the dangers of its product, Kitihata told the the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that the judge “had a chance to raise these questions during trial and even during jury deliberations. I thought it was the jury’s role to be the judge of evidence.”
Kitihata and the other jurors found that Monsanto owed $250 million to Johnson in punitive damages as well as $31 million for shortening his life expectancy. Bolanos said in a public hearing last Wednesday that she may overturn both sums, leaving Johnson with $8 million. The judge is expected to reach a decision by next Monday.
In a statement to Common Dreams, Katherine Paul, associate director for the Organic Consumers Association, denounced the judge’s consideration of a severely reduced verdict for Monsanto’s benefit.
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