San Francisco Man Awarded $289 Million After Jury Ruled Weed Killer Caused Cancer

August 12, 2018  |  

 JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

A San Francisco groundskeeper was awarded $289 million after a jury ruled that the company Monsanto’s weedkiller, Roundup, caused him to have cancer, AP reports. Dewayne Johnson was awarded $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

“This case is way bigger than me,” Johnson said during a press conference. “I hope it gets the attention that it needs.”

Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.

Monsanto has denied that the main ingredient, glyphosate, is linked to cancer; however, research by the World Health Organization has shown that the herbicide can be a carcinogen to humans. The jury ruled that there should have been a label on the product warning consumers of the health hazard.

Plaintiff DeWayne Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, California on August 10, 2018. – A California jury on Friday, August 10, 2018 ordered agrochemical giant Monsanto to pay nearly $290 million for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that its weed killer Roundup might cause cancer. Jurors found Monsanto acted with “malice” and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed “substantially” to Dewayne Johnson’s terminal illness. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is on Johnson’s legal team, said he hopes this verdict “sends a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto.”

“This jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life,” Kennedy Jr. told reporters.

As a pest control manager for a San Francisco school district, Johnson would use the weed killer at least 30 times a year. While using the product in windy weather, it would blow back in his face. There was also an incident where he was spraying the Roundup weedkiller from a hose connected to a 50-gallon tank and the hose broke, leaving him soaked in the hazardous chemicals. After developing a rash, Johnson contacted Monsanto but was never warned that Roundup could cause cancer.

Monsanto spokesman Scott Patridge says this legal battle is over.

“We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family,” Partridge said in a statement. “We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others.”

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