We are thrilled to report that on Friday a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289.2 million to former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, currently dying of cancer, because the company’s popular weed killer Roundup had contributed to his disease. Johnson’s lawsuit is the first to go to trial- among hundreds filed in state and federal courts – accusing Roundup of causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
See the verdict read in its entirety in the video below.
The lawsuit alleges exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and its active ingredient, glyphosate, caused Northern California resident Dewayne “Lee” Johnson to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Jurors agreed that the product contributed to Johnson’s cancer and that the company should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard. Johnson’s attorneys sought and won $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million of the $373 million they wanted in punitive damages.1
Speaking about the verdict, Robert F Kennedy Jr., a member of Johnson’s legal team said, “This jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life. This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto.“2 (We’re proud to know Robert F Kennedy, share his stories every week, and share a stage with him at events. He’s a dedicated activist and amazing lawyer.)
Monsanto has ignorantly and vehemently denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate — and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe. This verdict is the first crack in Monsanto’s wall proving otherwise.
According to Johnson’s attorney’s, as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, Johnson often used Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, spraying “large quantities from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck, and during gusty winds, the product would cover his face.”3 And at one point, when a hose broke, the poisonous weed killer soaked his entire body. Another time Johnson developed a rash and contacted the company but was never warned it could cause cancer.
Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 at age 42. Something George Lombardi, an attorney for Monsanto, claims the company couldn’t be to blame for (the jurors disagreed) since non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma takes years to develop.
With this verdict, the IARC’s (part of the World Health Organization) classification of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015, and California’s decision to add it to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer, we should be able to watch Monsanto phase this chemical poison out. FINALLY.
But until the day that happens, we’ll continue to report on this story and others like it. However, today, we celebrate. It’s a good day.