Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this story, the California jury has ruled in Dewayne Johnson’s favor and has determined Monsanto to pay $289 milllion in compensatory and punitive damages for failing to warn customers of the health dangers of its product(s).
BBC News reports Monsanto VP Scott Partridge stated, “The jury got it wrong” outside of the courthouse upon hearing the determination of the jury. James Cook, BBC North America Correspondent goes on to report:
Jurors found on Friday that the company had acted with “malice” and that its weedkillers contributed “substantially” to Mr Johnson’s terminal illness.
Following an eight-week trial, the jury ordered the agricultural multi-national to pay $250m in punitive damages together with other costs that brought the total figure to almost $290m.
Mr Johnson’s lawyer, Brent Wisner, said the jury’s verdict showed that the evidence against the product was “overwhelming”.
“When you are right, it is really easy to win,” he said, adding that the ruling was just “the tip of the spear” of future legal cases.
Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group also weighed in on the big news:
“Monsanto made Roundup the OxyContin of pesticides, and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost,” said “This won’t cure DeWayne Lee Johnson’s cancer, but it will send a strong message to a renegade company.”
Continue reading for a refresher on Dewayne’s fight to get justice for his cancer diagnosis:
Dewayne’s Roundup Exposure & Cancer Diagnosis
Dewayne Johnson is a father-of-two that worked as a groundskeeper in a Benicia, California school district and regularly sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup to control the grass and weeds (1). In August of 2014, Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells (1). The cancer has since spread and doctors don’t think he’ll survive beyond six months (1).
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Johnson, who now has lesions covering as much as 80% of his body, is suing the U.S. agrochemical corporation Monsanto and claiming its herbicide Roundup caused his illness (2,3). The company is denying that its product causes cancer but Johnson is adamant that there is a carcinogenic ingredient in Roundup and that Monsanto didn’t do their part to warn consumers (1).
Are Roundup And Cancer Two Peas in a Pod?
The main ingredient in Roundup is a chemical called glyphosate, which is marketed as either an amber-colored liquid with no smell or a salt (1). Monsanto introduced the chemical as an effective weed killer in 1974 (1). By 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer deemed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (2).
Johnson isn’t the first cancer patient to claim that Roundup causes cancer, more than 800 patients have sued Monsanto over claims that Roundup gave them cancer (2). Their lawsuits are currently proceeding through the US court system (3). Johnson is, however, the first of these patients to see his case go to trial (2). Johnson’s lawyer explained that, “His case has been expedited because he currently has only a few months to live” (3).
The Enormity of Dewayne’s Lawsuit
The stakes of this trial are enormous and Monsanto could face massive losses if it has to pay out damages over the product (3). If Monsanto wins, the hundreds of other cases could be thrown out (1). Linda Wells, an organizing director for Pesticide Action Network North America explained the gravity of the situation, stating, “If Johnson is successful at trial, it will be a huge shakeup for the entire pesticide industry.” (3).
One company that has dealt with the effects of these types of lawsuits in the past is Johnson & Johnson. Last year thousands of women in the U.S. sued the company over the talcum particles in its baby powder, claiming it caused them to develop ovarian cancer (4). Johnson & Johnson had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars and its reputation was tainted by the lawsuits (4). Monsanto could be headed down a similar path if Johnson wins his lawsuit.
Even though the outcome of the trial is still unknown one thing is for sure, Dewayne Johnson doesn’t have a lot of time left. Hopefully, justice can be served before it’s too late and the association between roundup and cancer can be determined once and for all. Read this next to learn about how you can protect yourself against Monsanto’s cancer-causing Roundup.
(1) Kekatos, M. (2018, June 18). Cancer-suffering groundsman, 46, who has months to live will testify against Roundup in first ever trial over the weedkiller’s links to cancer. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5857189/Terminally-ill-man-testify-against-Roundup-major-trial-weed-killers-links-cancer.html
(2) Yan, H. (2018, June 17). He’s dying of cancer. Now he’s the first patient to go to trial to argue Roundup made him sick. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/17/us/monsanto-roundup-dewayne-johnson-trial/index.html
(3) Man dying of cancer takes Monsanto to court. (2018, June 21). Retrieved from https://www.enca.com/world/many-dying-of-cancer-takes-monsanto-to-court
(4) Hsu, T. (2017, September 28). Risk on All Sides as 4,800 Women Sue Over Johnson’s Baby Powder and Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/business/johnson-and-johnson-baby-talcum-powder-lawsuits.html
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