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Bayer wins ruling limiting evidence submission in weedkiller lawsuits

A U.S judge limited the evidence that can be presented to support claims that weed killers made by Bayer AG's unit Monsanto Co. cause cancer, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 4.

The ruling will apply to the first federal court trial in the litigation, which will start on Feb. 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The case was brought by California's Edwin Hardeman, who claims to have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, after using Monsanto's products.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria's decision means that the trial will proceed into two phases, where the plaintiffs will have to first prove that the weedkiller Roundup causes cancer before claiming that Monsanto acted with malice, the newspaper reported.

That is good news for the German chemicals and pharmaceutical giant, whose stock has dropped since the company assumed the case after acquiring Monsanto, the world's top seed company, in June. Chhabria's decision comes after another judge declined to throw out a case against Monsanto, in which a jury had awarded $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper.

Hardeman's lawsuit is considered a bellwether case, which acts as a model for future legal arguments and potential monetary awards in an attempt to resolve as many cases as possible, the Journal added.

Chhabria's Jan. 3 ruling will boost Bayer's stance that glyphosate, a chemical in the Roundup weed killers, is safe to use as directed, according to the Journal.

Bayer welcomed the court's decision, adding that it will focus the trial on scientific findings that confirm the safety of glyphosate, the newspaper reported, citing a company statement.