San Francisco, California—A San Francisco judge may grant Monsanto a new trial after the August verdict finding that the glyphosate in its RoundUp had caused Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
(Editor’s Note: The judge ultimately ruled to uphold the verdict but reduced the amount of the award. Bayer, which is now the owner of Monsanto, is appealing.)
The judge, Suzanne Bolanos, cited the “insufficiency of the evidence to justify the award for punitive damages,” according to The Guardian. She has not yet made a final decision; she’s waiting to hear additional arguments.
Monsanto has continued to argue that it is safe to use glyphosate. A Bayer spokesperson praised the tentative ruling.
According to Yahoo Finance, the ruling is due to a comment made during the closing arguments given by Brent Wisner, the lead trial attorney for Johnson. He told jurors that Monsanto executives were in a company board room with “a bunch of champagne on ice” to drink, should the ruling come back in their favor.
Bolanos questioned whether or not Wisner crossed a line, with that comment and another in which Wisner told jurors their decision could “change the world.” Those comments could be sufficiently prejudicial to warrant a new trial.
On Thursday, the day after the ruling, Bayer’s shares jumped 6.4%, although they are still around 16% lower than before the original verdict.