- Groundskeeper Awarded $289M Roundup Cancer Verdict
- December 27, 2018
In a groundbreaking trial, a Northern California jury unanimously agrees Monsanto Roundup pesticide was a contributing cause of Bay Area school groundskeeper’s incurable cancer.
CALIFORNIA –– A San Francisco jury has awarded DeWayne Lee Johnson $289 million finding Monsanto liable for contributing to Mr. Johnson’s terminal cancer. Mr. Johnson contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after regularly using the company’s popular Roundup herbicide and a similar product, Ranger Pro.
Mr. Johnson was exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro weed killers as a school groundskeeper in the San Francisco Bay Area. He routinely sprayed the school district’s properties with large quantities of the herbicides from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck. During wind gusts, the weed killer would blow back, covering Mr. Johnson’s face. On one occasion, the hose broke completely dousing Mr. Johnson’s body with Roundup. Two years later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
According to court documents, lesions cover as much as 80% of Mr. Johnson’s body. On his bad days, Mr. Johnson is too weak to even speak. His doctors were not sure he would live long enough to see his day in court. So far, Mr. Johnson has beaten the odds, but his prognosis is bleak.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, has classified Roundup’s main active ingredient, glyphosate, as a “probable human carcinogen.” The State of California has also added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. However, a judge temporarily stopped the state from requiring that Monsanto add a cancer warning label on its products sold in California.
Roundup is the most popular herbicide used in the world. It is commonly sprayed on residential properties and used by commercial growers on agriculture crops and fields. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Roundup is the state’s most widely used herbicide. People who work in commercial agriculture or industrial farming are at high risk for exposure to pesticides and herbicides like Roundup.
Mr. Johnson, who is 46-years-old and married with two sons, is the first to take a case to trial against Monsanto alleging that Roundup causes cancer.
After deliberating for three days, the jury unanimously agreed that Roundup contributed to Mr. Johnson’s lymphoma. On August 10, 2018, in a precedent-setting verdict, the jury awarded Mr. Johnson $289 million. This amount includes $39 million for compensatory damages and $250 million for punitive damages. The jury found that Monsanto hid the risks from consumers. The jury also said that Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.
Monsanto has denied links between its pesticides and cancer for decades and maintains its product is safe. The agribusiness giant said it plans to appeal. Monsanto faces many more lawsuits from potentially thousands of people who have been harmed by Roundup.