Monsanto was dealt a major blow in court Friday, losing a major trial that links their Roundup herbicide to terminal cancer.
On Friday, August 10, a jury in San Francisco ruled that Roundup, their popular weed killer, was a major contributing factor in the terminal cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a result, Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages to the plaintiff.
This is the first trial against the carcinogenic properties of Roundup; it may set a significant precedent for thousands of other lawsuits alleging similar claims.
The Trial Only Took Three Days of Deliberations
Due to Johnson’s terminal prognosis, his trial was expedited to ensure he could see a verdict before passing away. And after only three days of deliberation, the jury awarded him $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.
According to his attorneys, Johnson applied Roundup weed killer approximately 20 to 30 times per year at his job as groundskeeper for a San Francisco school district. Johnson also experienced incidents in which he ended up spilling the herbicide over himself – the first happening in 2012. Two years later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the white blood cells and causes legions all over the body.
Why Was the Verdict in Favor of the Plaintiff?
This trial marks a drastically different tone from other suits targeting other companies for their potentially hazardous products. Some suits target companies for failing to warn their customers of the potential side effects of using their products. Others explicitly call out a company’s product as being the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The verdict against Monsanto was ruled due to both of those circumstances: the jury believed that not only did Monsanto fail to warn its customers, but also directly caused cancer with its Roundup products.
The Role of Roundup in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
The carcinogenic properties of Roundup have been heavily contested. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, has been noted for its potential to cause cancer, but many studies worldwide have been inconclusive at best – and companies such as the EPA claim that Roundup is safe for use.
This trial alleged that it was not glyphosate, but rather Roundup as a whole that was the cause of Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – arguing that its additives combined with glyphosate to create a “synergistic effect,” amplifying the carcinogenic properties of the final product.
The burden of proof was on the plaintiff – it was up to Johnson and his council to prove that Roundup was a significant contributing factor to the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Essentially, they had to prove that his cancer would not have otherwise occurred had he not been exposed to Roundup.
Setting a Precedent for the Future
The first of its kind, this verdict sets a considerable precedent for other Roundup cancer trials in the pipeline. There are more than 4,000 similar cases awaiting trials in other states, with approximately 400 more filed in federal multidistrict litigation.
If you’ve been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and have a history of Roundup exposure, contact a New York City product liability lawyer at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP immediately. With over $100 million recovered for our clients, we are dedicated to fighting for the people against negligent corporations. We do not hesitate to take a company to trial if it means maximum compensations for our clients. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and explore your options for recovery.