So they gave him $ 289 million injuries, mostly punishing the farm Monsanto.
Dewayne Johnson’s victory Friday against Monsanto could make a major precedent for thousands of other cases claiming that the company’s known herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Since then hundreds of other plaintiffs – including cancer patients, their spouses or their property – have also sued Monsanto, with similar statements.
After three days of deliberations a week, the jury of the San Francisco Supreme Court, Johnson awarded $ 250 million in punitive damages and about $ 39 million in compensation damages.
It will not change the fact that Johnson’s two sons can lose his father soon. But it will help them live more comfortably, said Johnson’s lawyer Timothy Litzenburg.
“He will live the rest of that time in extreme comfort,” said Litzenburg.
Following the judgment, Monsanto issued a statement saying that it says at the trial that Roundup does not cause cancer.
“We will appeal this decision and continue to strongly defend this product, which has a 40-year history for safe use and continues to be an important, effective and safe tool for farmers and others,” said Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge.
But Litzenburg said that the appeal would be expensive for Monsanto, as the company would pay interest on the damage while the case was appealed. That’s about $ 25 million a year, he said.
Lesions on much of his body
Johnson, 46, joined Roundup weedkiller 20 to 30 times a year while working as a scooter for a school district near San Francisco, his lawyers said.
He testified that during his work he had two accidents where he was soaked with the product. The first accident occurred in 201
Two years later, 2014, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
On bad days, Johnson is fond of speaking. Lesions cover as much as 80% of his body.
Litzenburg said that the most heartbreaking part of Johnson’s testimony was when two-father’s father described that he had terminal cancer. Johnson’s wife now works two 40-hour weekly jobs to support the family, said Litzenburg.
How carcinogenic (or not) is Roundup and glyphosate?
The major questions about whether Roundup can cause cancer, and if so, if Monsanto does not warn consumers about the product’s cancer risk. The jury was sitting with Johnson on both.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Cancer Research Agency (IARC) said that the main substance of Roundup, glyphosate, is “probably cancer-causing to humans.”
“For the herbicide glyphosate there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma , says the report.
But Monsanto has long claimed that Roundup does not cause cancer, and the IARC report is highly exaggerated by studies that say glyphosate is safe.
“More than 800 scientific studies, US EPA, National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer, “said Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of the strategy.  He highlighted the Agricultural Health Study, which studied the effects of pesticides and glyphosate products on farmers and their spouses from 1993 to 2013.
“Many had already used Roundup and others formulated Products (since) it first came on the market, “Sade Partridge.
A summary of that study said that “no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies in total, including NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).”
“We all have sympathy for Mr. Johnson,” said Partridge of the week. “It’s natural he’s looking for answers. Glyfosate is not the answer.”
But Litzenburg said glyphosate is not the big problem – Roundup is. He said that the interaction between glyphosate and other ingredients in Roundup produces a “synergistic effect” that makes the product more carcinogenic.
Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord questioned this term and said that the regulatory authorities contributed to ensuring that Roundup as a whole is safe.
“The safety of any labeled use of a pesticide formulation must be evaluated and approved by the regulatory authorities before being authorized for sale,” she said.
But Litzenburg said that Friday’s verdict would be a major alarm clock for the EPA.
Cancer patients claim an EPA official trying to help Monsanto
“I think it will make people sit and get government authorities to look closer to the ban (Roundup)”, says Litzenburg.
What did Johnson have to prove?
Although it was medically impossible to prove that Roundup caused Johnson’s terminal disease, it is also impossible for Monsanto to prove that Roundup did not cause his cancer.
“Cancer is a very difficult case to try,” said Litzenburg. “You can not root it or biopsize it and come back with what caused it.”
In this case, Monsanto was not required to prove anything. The burden of proof was on Johnson, the plaintiff.
But that does not mean that Johnson’s lawyers must prove that Roundup was the only cause of his cancer. All they needed to prove was if Roundup was a “significant contributing factor” to his illness.
“According to California law, Mr. Johnson’s cancer would not have occurred but for his exposure to Roundup,” said Monsanto spokesman Lord.
She noted that it is possible that his cancer may have developed from something that is not related to Roundup.
The majority of lymphomas are idiopathic – which means the cause is unknown, according to the American Cancer Society.
Litzenburg agreed that most non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas have not been linked to a primary cause earlier. But he said the tide began to turn around – similar to how it took decades for people to learn that tobacco can be a major contributor to lung cancer.
“You can not take a tumor in lung cancer and run a test that shows that tobacco caused it cancer … You see the same thing here,” said Litzenburg. “I think we are at the beginning of this time of this day as a country – as a public – the connection between these two things.”
Thousands of Cases to Follow
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