Monsanto Gets Crushed With $289 Million Verdict, More To Come
The first of what could become an avalanche of crippling blows against Monsanto came on Friday when a California jury ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages to a man who said the company’s product gave him cancer.
The plaintiff, school groundskeeper DeWayne Lee Johnson, alleged that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer was the cause of his disease. The lawsuit alleged that glyphosate caused Johnson’s cancer, Reuters reported.
The jury deliberated for three days before delivering its verdict at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California. It gave Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and added and additional $250 million in punitive damages.
Monsanto continues to deny that glyphosate causes cancer in humans and has vowed to appeal the verdict.
“Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews…support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer,” it said.
But the Environmental Working Group sees the verdict as a victory in the fight against the corporate giant, which is now under the umbrella of Bayer.
“Monsanto made Roundup the oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage have come home to roost,” the group’s president Ken Cook said in a statement.
“This won’t cure DeWayne Lee Johnson’s cancer, but it will send a strong message to a renegade company,” he said.
Johnson, 46, applied Roundup around 30 times per year in his work as a pest control manager for a California city school system, Reuters reported.
Johnson’s attorney, Brent Wisner, said that jurors read, for the first time, documents from within Monsanto that proved “that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.” He said that the company should “put consumer safety first over profits.”
Experts for both sides in the case disagreed on whether glyphosate could cause cancer in humans.
Johnson’s case was fast tracked because of how severe his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is. His doctors have said he will not likely live past 2020.
Things could get far worse for Monsanto as it faces 5,000 similar lawsuits after Johnson’s across the United States.