Roundup does cause cancer, a jury has declared in an unprecedented trial into the health dangers of Monsanto’s weedkiller.
After three days of deliberations, jurors on Friday sided with terminally-ill groundsman Dewayne Johnson, 46, who has just weeks to live, awarding him $250 million in punitive damages, plus nearly $40m in compensatory damages, bringing the total to $289m.
Specifically, in eight weeks of proceedings, the jury was left convinced that Monsanto’s product caused Johnson’s cancer.
Addressing a press conference on Friday evening, Johnson thanked his legal team, his wife, Araceli, and their two sons.
‘It’s taken a lot of prayer, I’ve taken energy from a lot of people. I’m glad to be here to help. Hopefully this thing will start to get the attention it needs. This case is way bigger than me,’ he said.
Johnson’s wife spends 14 hours a day working two jobs, lawyer Brent Wisner told the press conference. She was working when her husband’s verdict came through, he added.
When Johnson’s compensation is released he hopes to use it to enable his to spend more time with him and their children, Wisner said. He may also use it to fund a bone marrow transplant.
Monsanto will appeal the verdict and the compensation will only be released when this has been heard. Johnson’s lawyers will ask the appellate court to speed up the appeal so the money can be released while their client is still alive.
The groundskeeper, who worked for years in Benicia, California, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a cancer that starts in the white bloods cells – in August 2014. He mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup to keep grass and weeds under control.
The liable verdict means the case could open the door to hundreds of additional lawsuits against the company recently acquired by German-based pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer.
The first-of-its-kind verdict was delayed as jurors spent hours analyzing the timeline of Johnson’s symptoms, the validity of his expert witness’s testimony, and the discrepancies between Monsanto’s medical findings and that of their critics.