Attorneys for a school groundskeeper who sued Monsanto Co. over claims that its herbicides Roundup and Ranger Pro gave him lymphoma, asked a California jury to award him $412 million in damages, a number his attorneys said “makes people change their ways. It’s the kind of number that makes them change the labels.”
For years, Monsanto has denied that its herbicides were carcinogenic, and never placed warnings on its products’ label about health risks associated with its products despite studies dating back to the 1990s that linked an ingredient in the herbicide, called glyphosate, to a type of cancer known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
During the past month of testimony in the case of plaintiff DeWayne Johnson, jurors heard from Johnson’s experts, an oncologist, a toxicologist and an agricultural economist who backed up concerns about the herbicides’ cancer risks.
Monsanto brought out its own experts, including an epidemiologist who testified that studies did not show a causal association between glyphosate and cancer.
Since there were no warnings on Roundup or Ranger Pro, Johnson believed the herbicides were safe to use in his job as a groundskeeper for a school district. He claims he accidentally became drenched in herbicide, after which he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Johnson filed his lawsuit against Monsanto in 2016.
His attorneys told the jury that because of Monsanto’s failure to warn consumers, the company owes Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages, including a million a year for loss of life, as well as $373 million in punitive damages.
The jury is currently in deliberations in this landmark case, the results Johnson’s attorneys say they hope results in more studies and warning labels to inform consumers about the cancer risks associated with Monsanto’s herbisides.