Bayer Monsanto Damages Reduced to $25.27 Million by U.S. Judge
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria announced his ruling in San Francisco on Monday.
Following a four-week trial in March a federal jury awarded $5 million (€4.4 million) in compensatory and $75 million in punitive damages to a man who blamed his cancer on glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup.
Edwin Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014.
Limits on Ratios for Damages
At a hearing to discuss Bayer's request to overturn the verdict earlier this month, Chhabria said, "It's quite clear that under the Constitution I'm required to reduce the punitive damages award and it's just a question of how much."
U.S. Supreme Court rulings limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9 to 1.
The judge said he would also take into account the fact that Hardeman was now in full remission and unlikely to suffer as much as he had in the past.
Bayer says Roundup — and its active ingredient glyphosate — are safe for human use and not carcinogenic. However, in 2015 the World Health Organization's cancer arm reached a different conclusion, classifying glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
Roundup products for sale in California.
Litigation Hits Share Price
The Leverkusen-based company is facing lawsuits from more than 13,400 plaintiffs in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann conceded the effect the court cases had had on the share price: "We have lost two cases in lower courts. That is why the company is massively affected. You see it in our share price," he said at an academic business event in Cologne in April. "You see it selectively, mainly here in Germany and in France — less so in the USA — in our reputational scores."
Over the past year, Bayer's share price has dropped dramatically and the company has seen €30 billion (approximately $33.7 billion) wiped off its market value since the first court ruling last August. Its share price has fallen from €96 (approximately $108) in August 2018 to €58.63 (approximately $66) at close of markets in Frankfurt on Monday.
Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.
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What Is Ammonium Nitrate?<p>Ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline salt that can be fairly cheaply produced from ammonia and nitric acid. It is soluble and often used as fertilizer, as nitrogen is needed for healthy plant development.</p><p>Ammonium nitrate in its pure form is not dangerous. It is, however, heat sensitive. At 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.96 degrees Fahrenheit), ammonium nitrate changes its atomic structure, which in turn changes its chemical properties.</p><p>When large quantities of ammonium nitrate are stored in one place, heat is generated. If the amount is sufficiently vast, it can cause the chemical to ignite. Once a temperature of 170 C is reached, ammonium nitrate starts breaking down, emitting nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Any sudden ignition causes ammonium nitrate to decompose directly into water, nitrogen and oxygen, which explains the enormous explosive power of the salt.</p>
Deadly Disasters<p>As ammonium nitrate is a highly explosive chemical, many countries strictly regulate its use. Over the past 100 years, there have been several disasters involving the chemical.</p><p>In 1921, for example, a massive blast occurred at a BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. About 400 metric tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 559 people and injuring 1,977. The plant was largely destroyed in the blast, which could be heard as far away as Munich, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) distant.</p><p>In 2015, explosions caused by ammonium nitrate ripped through the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/china-convicts-dozens-for-last-years-giant-explosions-in-tianjin/a-36324321" target="_blank">Chinese port city of Tianjin</a>. Eight hundred metric tons of the chemical were said to have been stored along with other substances in a warehouse for hazardous materials. The blasts killed 173 people and destroyed an entire city district.</p><p>Two years earlier, in 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company site in Texas, killing 14 people. And in 2001, 31 people died in Toulouse, France, in an explosion caused by the chemical.</p>
Terrorist Favorite<p>In Germany, the purchase and use of ammonium nitrate is regulated by the explosives act. This is because the cheap, highly explosive and relatively easily obtainable material has in the past been used by terrorists to carry out attacks.</p><p>For example, in 1995, U.S. conspiracy theorist and gun enthusiast Timothy McVeigh used a mixture of ammonium nitrate and other substances to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik also used ammonium nitrate in a car bomb attack in Oslo in 2011.</p>
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