The man who won a $289 million verdict in a landmark case against Monsanto over claims that regular exposure to the company’s Roundup weed killer gave him cancer told CBS This Morning he sued the company because he wanted to warn others about the dangers of Roundup, and “you can’t just die for nothing.”
DeWayne “Lee” Johnson worked as a groundskeeper for a Bay-area school district beginning in 2012. Part of his job entailed spraying Roundup and Ranger Pro weed killers 20 to 30 times a year for hours a day. Roundup and Ranger Pro are both made by Monsanto and contain glyphosate, a chemical Johnson claims contributed to his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“One of the things that stuck out to me the worst is when they (the trainers) told me it was safe enough to drink,” Johnson said. “Actually, they – it became a joke almost. Like, ‘Hey, man, did you drink your –’… It was like, ‘What?’ You know, it was really a shock.”
Johnson wore protective gear when he sprayed the lawns and fields, but that didn’t always keep the solution from getting on his skin. One day the hose came loose and the weed killer got into his suit, drenching him in chemicals. A few months later, he developed a rash that got continuously worse. That’s when doctors diagnosed him with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He called Monsanto looking for answers. Could Roundup and Ranger Pro have caused his disease? The company never returned his calls.
Johnson filed his lawsuit in 2016. Two weeks ago, following an eight-week trial, a jury found Monsanto’s weed killers contributed to Johnson’s cancer and that the company failed to warn users of the risks. They awarded Johnson $289 million.
“The verdict really meant to me – that this thing was not done in vain,” Johnson told CBS This Morning. “I remember standing there saying to myself, if I lose this case, this company is going to get away and … they’ll be able to stay, ‘See? Told you our stuff didn’t do that.’”
Source: CBS This Morning