A juror in the Roundup cancer trial brought by Edwin Hardeman has taken the unusual step of writing a letter to the judge who presided over the matter asking him to let the verdict stand without reducing it. Stating that the $80 million award was “no accident” and came about through “meticulous planning” by the jury, the letter is attributed only to “juror #5.”
Most observers expect U.S. District Vince Chhabria to reduce the award while Bayer holds out hope that it is thrown out entirely along with the verdict. Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits punitive damages to a 9 to 1 ratio to compensatory awards, Judge Chhabria has stated that “under the Constitution [he is] required to reduce the punitive damages award and it’s just a question of how much.” Under the 9 to 1 rule, that would mean a maximum punitive award of some $45 million for Hardeman.
The juror, however, noted in their letter to Judge Chabbria that extraordinary cases have been viewed as an exception to the rule in the past – a fact that was also not lost on Hardeman’s lawyers. “Based on the evidence provided,” wrote the juror, “’reprehensible’ is much too kind a word to describe the actions of the Monsanto employees.”
Bayer’s lawyers have accused juror #5 of having a bias against Monsanto from the start and asked Chabbria to disregard the letter as he considers his decision. Claiming to have seen the juror engaging with and hugging Hardeman and his wife at the proceedings, the corporation has cited multiple separate instances of the juror’s alleged bias coming to light.
This not the first time such a letter has been written to a judge presiding over a Roundup award. A similar letter was written to the judge in the Dewayne “Lee” Johnson case, although it had little effect. Johnson’s award was reduced from $289 million to $78 million and still resulted in an immediate appeal being filed by Bayer.
The corporation appears displeased by jurors continuing to write letters to judges asking that their verdicts be upheld. “The fact that jurors from both trials wrote letters in support of constitutionally impermissible verdicts is highly unusual,” the company wrote, “and generates further anti-Monsanto bias in the Bay Area that will infect future Roundup trials.” Perhaps Bayer’s time would be better spent considering whether some of that “anti-Monsanto bias” might come from the fact that every jury they’ve been in front of thus far has concluded that their product causes cancer.