Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Monsanto must pay $289m in damages over herbicide cancer case

Monsanto must pay $289m in damages over herbicide cancer case

A weedkiller widely available in Britain has been blamed for causing the terminal cancer of an American man who has been awarded $289m (£226m) in damages.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, on August 10, 2018.

Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, said the jury's verdict showed there was "overwhelming" evidence against the product.

Mr Johnson's lawyers said he sprayed Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, in large quantities as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district.

"This verdict proves that when ordinary citizens, in this case a jury of 12, hear the facts about Monsanto's products, and the lengths to which this company has gone to buy off scientists, deceive the public and influence government regulatory agencies, there is no confusion", said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's global director.

Monsanto, however, denied that glyphosate causes cancer and said it will appeal the ruling.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Roundup's active ingredient is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.

Several North Texans have also sued Monsanto claiming Roundup caused them to get sick.

"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.

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

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Johnson was awarded a total of about $39 million in past and future losses, both economic and noneconomic, but it was the $250 million in punitive damages that seemed to take the courtroom's breath away, as a sigh was heard on a video recording when Bolanos made the announcement.

"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business", said Robert F. Kennedy Jr - an environmental lawyer, son of the late United States senator and a member of Johnson's legal team.

Mr Johnson used the two products while carrying out the duties of his job, his lawyers said.

Johnson, who appeared to be fighting back sobs while the verdict was read, wept openly, as did some jurors, when he met with the panel afterward.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto in San Francisco.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is responsible for pesticide regulation, said: "Decisions on the use of pesticides should be based on a careful scientific assessment of the risks".

Glyphosate is the world's most common weedkiller.

The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive officer Sanchia Aranda said the International Agency for Research on Cancers has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.

A Californian jury said Monsanto should have warned users about the dangers of its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers.

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