Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Jury Awards Terminally Ill Man $289 Million In Lawsuit Against Monsanto

California Roundup ingredient can cause cancer Jury Awards Terminally Ill Man $289 Million In Lawsuit Against Monsanto
Russell Knight | 11 August, 2018, 12:10

Agribusiness giant Monsanto has been ordered by to pay $US289 million ($396 million) to a former school groundskeeper dying of cancer, with a San Francisco jury saying the company's popular Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease.

Johnson's is the first of hundreds of cancer-patient cases against Monsanto and could be a bellwether of what lies ahead for the company.

Following eight weeks of trial proceedings, the San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $250 million in punitive damages along with compensatory damages and other costs, bringing the total figure to almost $290 million.

This case and the verdict specifically concern the 46-year-old father who developed a severe and fatal form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma while working as a school groundskeeper, repeatedly spraying large quantities of Monsanto's Roundup and other glyphosate herbicide brands.

Monsanto has denied the Roundup causes cancer, but the jury, it seems, disagreed.

Roundup is widely available in British garden centres and is thought to be the most commonly used weedkiller in the world.

Its attorneys say they have the bulk of scientific research firmly on their side, and that they will appeal against the verdict, meaning it could be years before Johnson and his family see a dime of the damage award.

"The 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", said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of Johnson's attorneys, according to the Associated Press.

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"This is a company that has always put profits ahead of public safety, and today, Monsanto has finally been held accountable", he added. "We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective and safe tool for farmers and others". "This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto". Johnson's doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020.

FILE - In this July, 9, 2018, file photo, plaintiff DeWayne Johnson looks up during a brief break as the Monsanto trial in San Francisco.

Johnson's attorneys sought and won US$39 million in compensatory damages and US$250 million of the US$373 million they wanted in punitive damages.

After the jury was polled and released from its duties, Johnson exchanged hugs and received congratulations from members of his legal team while displaying a thin smile.

Mr Partridge said of the verdict: 'The jury made a decision, but the decision that a jury or a judge makes has to be based on the weight of the evidence and the overwhelming weight of the evidence that went in the trial was that science demonstrates glyphosate is safe, there's no credible evidence to the contrary.

He said the product would often cover his face, and one time, when a hose broke, his whole body was covered.

Mr Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer. And California has added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

"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".

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