Jury awards $289 million to man who said Roundup gave him cancer

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto Credit JOSH EDELSON AFP

A California jury has awarded a terminally ill man more than $200 million after ruling that his non-Hodgkins lymphoma was at least partly due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup.

Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, said the jury's verdict showed the evidence was "overwhelming". "Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs".

The groundsman's lawyers said he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, having used Roundup and a similar Monsanto product, Ranger Pro, in large quantities while working for a school authority.

The company, which has denied any link between the glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and cancer, vowed to appeal the verdict and "vigorously" defend its product.

Correspondents say the California ruling is likely to lead to hundreds of other claims against Monsanto, which was recently bought by the German conglomerate Bayer AG.

"This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto", Kennedy added.

On Friday, the jury in San Francisco found that Roundup was a "substantial factor" in Mr Johnson's illness and that the company should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.

In one instance a hose broke and the weed killer soaked his entire body.

Following an eight-week trial, the jury ordered the company to pay $250m in punitive damages together with other costs that brought the total figure to nearly $290m.

Furthermore, the jury found Monsanto officials acted with "malice and oppression" in their selling of the product despite its risks being known.

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"We hope that this is just the first of many defeats for Monsanto, and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will pull this product off the market immediately".

Four years later Johnson - now near death, according to his doctors - has been awarded a staggering sum of $289 million dollars in damages in a case against agricultural giant Monsanto. There is no consensus globally on banning the weedkillers using glyphosate.In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, concluded that glyphosate-based weedkiller was "probably carcinogenic to humans".

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

Dressed casually, Johnson had a brief exchange with his lawyer when that figure was revealed, then bowed his head as another one of his lawyers patted him on the back and whispered to him.

"We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family", Partridge said.

In this July 9 photo, plaintiff DeWayne Johnson looks up during a brief break as the Monsanto trial continues in San Francisco.

Roundup is widely available in British garden centres and is thought to be the most commonly used weedkiller in the world.

Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer, Wisner said.

"Workers could potentially sue their employers if they developed a significant injury as a result of their exposure to Roundup".

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