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California court denies Bayer appeal

Scott Olson/Getty Images Jug of Roundup weed killer. Photo illustration of jug sitting in grass, behind dandelion by decking.
$20.5 million verdict stands in case of groundkeeper who alleges Roundup gave him cancer.

Updated 4:24 p.m. central with comment from Bayer.

The California Supreme Court has denied a petition to review the decision in the Johnson v. Monsanto Company case.

The suit goes back to August 2018, when jurors awarded Lee Johnson, a former school groundskeeper, $289 million in damages in the first trial over claims that Roundup causes cancer. Bayer closed a deal to acquire Monsanto in June 2018. A California appeals court affirmed the verdict earlier this year, but slashed the award to $20.5 million.

In its petition, Bayer AG division Monsanto asserts that the decision warrants review "because it conflicts with the law and longstanding legal principles with regard to federal preemption, design defect, failure to warn and punitive damages."

The California Supreme Court didn't weigh in on the merits of the case when it announced its denial, The Wall Street Journal reported. The court accepts only a fraction of requests.

The law firm that represented Johnson emailed the following statement, “The Miller Firm is pleased that the California Supreme Court denied Monsanto's latest attempt to skirt responsibility for the significant harm it caused Mr. Johnson. Multiple judges have now affirmed the jury’s unanimous finding that Monsanto maliciously concealed Roundup's cancer risk and caused Mr. Johnson to develop a deadly form of cancer. The time has come for Monsanto to end its baseless appeals and pay Mr. Johnson the money it owes him.”

Bayer emailed the following statement, “We are disappointed with the court’s decision not to review the intermediate appeals court’s decision in Johnson and will consider our legal options for further review of this case.”

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