Jury backs man who claims Roundup weed killer caused cancer

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco jury on Friday ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto to pay $289 million to a former school groundskeeper dying of cancer, saying the company’s popular Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease.

The lawsuit brought by Dewayne Johnson was the first to go to trial among hundreds filed in state and federal courts saying Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which Monsanto denies.

Jurors in state Superior Court agreed the product contributed to Johnson’s cancer and the company should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard. Johnson’s attorneys sought and won $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million of the $373 million they wanted in punitive damages.

“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,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of Johnson’s legal team. “This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto.”

Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate — and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

Johnson used Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, his lawyers said. He sprayed large quantities from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck, and during gusty winds, the product would cover his face, said Brent Wisner, one of his attorneys.

Once, when a hose broke, the weed killer soaked his entire body.

Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer, Wisner said. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 at age 42.

“The simple fact is he is going to die. It’s just a matter of time,” Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.

But George Lombardi, an attorney for Monsanto, said non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson’s cancer must have started well before he began working at the school district.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Roundup’s active ingredient is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.

However, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015. And California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maskwacis RCMP investigating after discovery of human remains

Maskwacis RCMP are investigating following the discovery of human remains near Highway… Continue reading

Man reported missing

Anyone with information can contact Red Deer RCMP

Budget day: Alberta government planning to balance books, boost employment

EDMONTON — It’s budget day in Alberta. And while the United Conservative… Continue reading

Workplace inclusion forum set for March 4

A Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership event

Nearly two years after opening, Calgary’s New Horizon Mall is 50 per cent leased

CALGARY — The New Horizon Mall just north of Calgary says it… Continue reading

VIDEO: Grumpy sea lion resists help back to water in Washington state

Crews were able to coax her into a crate to carry her back to water

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Young burn survivor sharing his story to inspire others

Eleven-year-old burn survivor Kaden Howard hopes his experience will help other people… Continue reading

Hardy Red Deerians ready to take the plunge

More than 50 plungers will brave freezing water to support Special Olympics… Continue reading

Trudeau marooned in no man’s land

Hope and fear are the most powerful emotions in politics. Unfortunately, Justin… Continue reading

Lawyers: New evidence backs Loughlin, Giannulli’s innocence

BOSTON — Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion… Continue reading

Defending champion Kevin Koe one of the headliners in strong Brier field

KINGSTON, Ont. — With four national men’s curling titles to his credit,… Continue reading

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime ousted at Mexican Open by Britain’s Kyle Edmund

MEXICO CITY — Canadian qualifier Leylah Annie Fernandez has reached the quarterfinals… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds among 2020 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards winners

This year’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards will be a star-studded affair,… Continue reading

Most Read