(Corrects headline and lead paragraph to say judge calls for damages to be cut)
FRANKFURT, July 19 (Reuters) - Germany’s Bayer AG on Friday welcomed a conditional ruling by a U.S. judge calling for the reduction of a $2 billion damages award to a couple by a jury who found that its glyphosate-based weed killer caused their cancer.
Shares in Bayer were up 1.4% in early Frankfurt trade.
Judge Winifred Y. Smith, of California’s Alameda County Superior Court, ruled that the case of Alva and Alberta Pilliod should be retried if the parties cannot agree on a reduced award at a hearing to be held on Friday.
“The court’s tentative order proposes changes in the damage awards, which would be a step in the right direction,” Bayer said in a statement. “Bayer will wait for a final order on the post-trial motions before commenting in further detail.”
Bayer attached a copy of the court ruling to its statement.
Bayer had asked Judge Smith in June to overrule the jury verdict that its Roundup weed killer caused the couple’s non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), arguing the decision was not supported by the evidence.
The German drugmaker and chemicals company said in court filings at the time that the massive verdict was based on “inflammatory, fabricated and irrelevant evidence” from the couple’s lawyers. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Michelle Martin)