On Friday, August 10, a California jury awarded a former school groundskeeper with terminal cancer $289 million in damages. Jurors found Monsanto, the company that manufactures Roundup weed killer, liable for plaintiff Dewayne Johnson’s terminal illness. Johnson’s is the first case to go to trial against the powerful multi-national, with at least 800 cases still pending.
Judge Reduces Payout to $78MM After Monsanto Appeals Ruling
On November 1, 2018, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos reduced Johnson’s award to $78 million in damages. This reduced payout came in response to Monsanto’s appeal after the first jury trial concluded a few months earlier. However, this new ruling applied only to punitive damages awarded in Johnson’s case. Monsanto vowed to appeal again, despite Judge Bolanos affirming she wouldn’t order a new trial if Johnson accepted the reduced payout amount.
Roundup Warning Cites Link to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
In July 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added glyphosate to its “known carcinogens” list. (Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the most popular weed killer in the U.S.) Under California’s Proposition 65, Monsanto added a warning label to all Roundup products warning consumers about glyphosate’s link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Currently, farmers spray glyphosate on more than 90% of food crops grown in the United States.
Johnson says he used the spray 20-30 times annually as part of routine grounds maintenance and was accidentally doused with Roundup twice since 2012. Two years later, Johnson received his cancer diagnosis in 2014. Today, cancerous lesions cover as much as 80% of Johnson’s body.
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