Dewayne Johnson is terminally ill. The 46-year-old pest control manager for a northern California school district says that using the pesticide Roundup as many as 30 times per year exposed him to cancer-causing chemicals. He is suing agrochemical giant Monsanto and will be the first to go to trial.
According to CNN, his doctors say that Johnson doesn’t have much time left. In the state of California, terminally ill patients may petition for expedited court proceedings. Johnson could set a precedent for people who claim that Roundup made them sick as well. One victory could open the door to countless numbers of settlements. Johnson’s trial starts on Monday, June 18.
For Johnson, the disease has been crippling. He struggles to speak on his worst days and lesions cover up to 80 percent of his body. The father-of-two has not been able to work and it is only a matter of time before he will meet his demise. Johnson’s attorney, Timothy Litzenburg, said that his client is demonstrating exceptional bravery in his final days.
“Mr. Johnson is angry and is the most safety-oriented person I know,” Litzenburg said. “Right now, he is the bravest dude in America. Whatever happens with the trial and his health, his sons get to know that.”
Johnson’s attorney now represents thousands who have made similar claims to the number one plaintiff. They all claim to have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and blame the disease on Roundup. Pointing to over 800 studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), spokesmen for Monsanto deny that the key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, causes cancer. They intend to fight the allegations against them.
“We have empathy for anyone suffering from cancer, but the scientific evidence clearly shows that glyphosate was not the cause,” Monsanto’s Vice President of Strategy Scott Partridge said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting this evidence to the court.”
However, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported in March, 2015, that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on limited, but convincing, evidence. There are also studies that have been conducted which have proved inconclusive. Plaintiffs in these cases will have to show a direct causal link between the glyphosate in Roundup and cancer.
Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord said that the company is standing behind its product. Roundup is safe and independently regulated to ensure that it harms no one.
“The safety of each labeled use of a pesticide formulation must be evaluated and approved by regulatory authorities before it is authorized for sale,” Lord said.