Monsanto Roundup lawsuit: Jury awards $289 million to cancer patient

Dewayne Johnson who has terminal cancer mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of glyphosate weedkiller

The jury ruled that Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper, developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to regularly using Roundup. There are now more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in the USA against Monsanto's weed killers, according to Reuters, with Johnson's trial coming first because doctors claimed that he was close to dying.

Johnson thanked jurors "from the bottom of my heart" for their work, along with his lawyers and his family. The short period between Johnson's first exposure in 2012 and his diagnosis in 2014 made any connection between his contact and the disease impossible, according to the company. In California, dying plaintiffs are granted expedited trial, which put Johnson's case at the top of the list. The fine sets a precedent for future cases against the company.

"A unanimous jury in San Francisco has told Monsanto: 'Enough".

Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289 million in damages over alleged links between weedkiller and cancer, knocking nearly €9 billion off the value of its German owner yesterday. "We now have a way forward".

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was first approved for use in Monsanto's weed killer in 1974.

Monsanto is planning to appeal the verdict and rejects the court's assertion that glyphosate, the world's most widely-used pesticide, caused cancer. "Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs", Johnson, 46, said after the verdict.

"I think that's something everybody should be scared of, because in this application, however you feel about Monsanto and Roundup, if we apply that same philosophy that courts don't have to use science and evidence to make rulings, then that's a very risky place for society".

Johnson used Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, his lawyers said.

But Johnson's attorney Brent Wisner said the verdict "shows the evidence is overwhelming" that the product poses danger. On two separate occasions, he was "soaked" in the weedkiller after a hose broke.

It also found that the manufacturer, Monsanto, knew of the product's potential health risks, and acted "with malice or oppression" by failing to warn users. "It's just a matter of time", Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.

Monsanto argued that the type of cancer Johnson contracted takes many years to form.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans. However, the cancer unit of the World Health Organization in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

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