The first trial to determine if the most widely used herbicide causes cancer, concluded with a San Francisco jury awarding $289 million in damages to a man who was diagnosed with a deadly illness while spraying school grounds with a weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co.
The jury unanimously decided that Monsanto was responsible for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that the company should have known of the dangers posed by their products Roundup and Ranger Pro, both of which contain the herbicide glyphosate. The jury also found that Monsanto had “acted with malice or oppression” when it supplied glyphosate to the Benicia Unified School District without disclosing the potentially deadly effects.
Monsanto denies that glyphosate is dangerous and says it will seek an appeal of the verdict.
Of the 4,000 lawsuits that have been filed across the country by people who claim they were sickened by Roundup, Johnson’s was the first to go to trial. This means the new verdict can have a substantial impact on other pending lawsuits.
The jury’s decision also served as a rebuke of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s long held stance that glyphosate is safe. In fact, the agency has not restricted use of the chemical, despite other agencies stating that the herbicide most likely causes cancer.
Speaking about the case verdict, Johnson said, “The cause is way bigger than me. Hopefully this thing will start to get the attention that it needs to get right.”
Johnson first received a diagnosis for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2014 and was later diagnosed with a more aggressive form of the cancer in March 2015. According to one of his physicians who testified in the case, Johnson is unlikely to survive to 2020.
The jury awarded Johnson $2.3 million in damages for his past and future economic losses and another $37 million for pain and emotional distress, which amounts to $1 million for each year of what would have been his normal life expectancy after 2014. $250 million was awarded in punitive damages for the company’s malicious and oppressive conduct.
After four weeks of testimony, jurors deliberated for 2½ days before reaching a unanimous decision.
Environmental advocates have applauded the verdict. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said “Mr. Johnson’s brave decision to spend his dying days fighting Monsanto to prove the dangers of Roundup is part of a global awakening to the long-term health and environmental costs of our careless addiction to pesticides.”
Glyphosate is the world’s leading herbicide and has been classified as a probable human carcinogen since 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In 2017, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment listed it as a chemical that is known to cause cancer. Monsanto remains its leading distributor and holds the initial patent. Despite this, glyphosate remains legal in the U.S. and Europe.
Speak with a Product Liability Lawyer
At Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, our legal team is currently accepting cases for anyone who has potentially been exposed to Roundup and has been inflicted with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We have more than 40 years of legal experience and we are dedicated to helping clients obtain the justice they deserve. We know how frustrating it is to be harmed by another person’s or company’s negligence, which is why our lawyers are here to fight for you.