A jury has found that the weed killers Roundup and Ranger Pro, manufactured by Monsanto, were considered to be substantial factors contributing to the terminal cancer of a former Benicia School District groundskeeper. As a result of this, Monsanto is expected to pay out $289.2 million in compensation.
The trial into Monsanto's accountability has gone on for eight weeks and the jury deliberated for two and a half days before issuing their verdict. Of the sum awarded, $250 million is for punitive damages and $33 million is for compensatory damages.
According to ABC 7 News, Dewayne Lee Johnson, who was suing Monsanto, will now be able to access groundbreaking treatments for his terminal cancer.
NBC News reports that this case is the first of several being issued against Monsanto in relation to "alleging the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." And, as Johnson's attorney points out, this could end up being similar to the slew of lawsuits that were brought against tobacco companies once a link between smoking and cancer was publicly acknowledged.
"I think it's exactly like the tobacco trials. Monsanto, for 40 years, has been taking the playbook from the tobacco industry, ghostwriting science, buying science, using all the different PR strategies and the legal strategies to confuse the science to blur the science and I'm so glad that this jury held them accountable," said Johnson's attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Dewayne Lee Johnson was suing Monsanto as a result of his former job as a pest control manager for Benicia School District. During his time in this position, he was expected to use Roundup as a bulk spray up to 30 times a year. According to ABC 7 News, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma two and a half years into this job.
While a jury found Monsanto accountable for causing Johnson's cancer, Monsanto is adamant their products are safe for use by the general public.
Monsanto's vice president, Scott Partridge, issued the following statement in regard to Friday's verdict and the claim that Monsanto is likened to tobacco companies.
"No, it's not a fair analysis at all. We all know tobacco causes cancer, glyphosate does not cause cancer. It's been perfectly safe and that's been demonstrated for more than four decades. I don't know how they got it wrong but they did, they got it wrong."
However, according to NBC News, glyphosate has been "classified as a probable human carcinogen three years ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a wing of the World Health Organization."
Dewayne Lee Johnson has not yet released a public statement on the verdict.