Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289M in Roundup Cancer Lawsuit
A California man who sued Monsanto alleging the company’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused his terminal cancer was just awarded $289M in a guilty-on-all-counts decision by the jury.
On August 10, a jury in California found Monsanto liable for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson contracting cancer as a direct result of exposure to its Roundup family of glyphosate-based herbicides.
The case, which began trial on July 9 in San Francisco’s Superior Court, involves 46-year old Dewayne Johnson. For years he served as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified school district in California. In that job, for years he had to apply two different Monsanto products–including the weed killer Roundup --to help kill unwanted plants on the grounds. While groundskeeper, he was diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma. He blamed Monsanto and glyphosate for his illness.
Johnson, a father of three, is dying with no hope of a cure.
He filed his case against Monsanto on January 28, 2016. It was eventually assigned on June 18, 2018, to Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos for the Superior Court of San Francisco. His case was the first of its kind to proceed to trial after he was diagnosed with the terminal illness. After eight weeks of trial proceedings, the jury deliberated for three days. They found that Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killer products. They awarded Johnson $39.2 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an attorney representing Johnson in the case, wrote in a statement that the court awarded the punitive damages against Monsanto "for ‘acting with malice and oppression’”.
Co-lead counsel Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Goldman, said the verdict was the direct result of newly-discovered confidential company documents from Monsanto. In a statement after the verdict, he said, “We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.” He went on to say that, "Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits."
Co-lead counsel David Dickens of the Miller Firm spoke further of the damning nature of the internal documents. “Many of these confidential Monsan-
to documents were unsealed for the first time. They show that Monsanto knew that its testing was insufficient and that there was a synergistic effect when glyphosate is combined with surfactants which help the glyphosate penetrate both plant and animal cell walls.”
Ronnie Cummins, the international director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), said that, “This verdict proves that when ordinary citizens, in this case a jury of 12, hear the facts about Monsanto’s products, and the lengths to which this company has gone to buy off scientists, deceive the public and influence government regulatory agencies, there is no confusion.” He added that, “This is a company that has always put profits ahead of public safety, and today, Monsanto has finally been held accountable.”
Cummins also offered praise to the plaintiff in this case as well. “We are grateful to Mr. Johnson for bravely facing down the ‘most evil corporation’ in the world. We hope that this is just the first of many defeats for Monsanto, and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will pull this product off the market immediately.”
Monsanto’s Roundup is both applied by itself as a weed killing agent and in conjunction with the planting of Roundup-resistant genetically-modified crops (GMOS) which dominate the food industry worldwide. The glyphosate there has been found not just in workers and those who live close to where planting is present, but also in the harvested food itself.
Glyphosate has long been proven to damage DNA in soil microbes and in the human body.
Most humans have dangerous concentrations of glyphosate in their bodies.
Monsanto was acquired by Bayer AG in a $62.5 billion acquisition. It currently faces more than 5,000 lawsuits similar to the one just decided in Johnson’s favor. This current precedent–and the confidential materials released as part of these proceedings–could make a major difference in how those 5,000+ cases will be decided and make it possible for even more suits to be filed worldwide.
Brazil just recently joined other countries who have wisely banned glyphosate.
For further information on how Monsanto has fought to hide the truth about the dangers of Roundup and glyphosate, please see “Monsanto’s Secret War on Reality”, published July 19, 2018 in Trillions.