Agrochemical giant Monsanto is appealing a damning $78 million verdict in the case of a dying California groundskeeper who claims the company's Roundup weedkiller caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Now owned by Bayer, Monsanto filed documents for the appeal on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 in San Francisco Superior Court, asking a judge to reopen hearings in the case of plaintiff DeWayne Johnson.
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In August, a jury for the Superior Court found in a unanimous decision that Roundup caused Johnson's cancer, awarding the man a staggering sum of $289 million. Judge Suzanne Bolanos in October cut the award to $78 million, but Monsanto had requested a new trial.
"We continue to believe that the liability verdict and reduced damage award are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law," Bayer
said in a press statement released at the time. Bayer maintains that none of the evidence presented at trial can establish the assertion that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
DeWayne Johnson, 46, claims to have regularly sprayed Roundup and similar herbicide products while working as a pest control manager at a San Francisco high school. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 42, in 2014. His doctor testified at trial that he only has three years to live.
Johnson filed suit against Monsanto, accusing the company of concealing a long-standing link between glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and the virulent form of cancer with which he was diagnosed. Decades of research draw a link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer listed the chemical substance as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
Monsanto disputes this research, but the evidence against Roundup has been growing for years. So have Roundup cancer lawsuits. Monsanto currently faces thousands of additional product liability lawsuits, many of which have been centralized in a California federal court under the guidance of District Judge Vince Chhabria.
In San Francisco, the claims against Monsanto have progressed through pre-trial proceedings as a group, allowing plaintiffs’ attorneys to coordinate their efforts in pursuit of justice. Elsewhere, several hundred Roundup claims are currently making their way through pre-trial proceedings in a Missouri state court in St. Louis, where Monsanto maintains its US headquarters. An additional hundred or so lawsuits are pending in a state court in Delaware, the state in which Monsanto was incorporated.
Despite being scattered across a number of federal and state courts, legal observers say that the growing Monsanto litigation is progressing at a rapid pace.
The allegations leveled by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients are deeply troubling. In hundreds of product liability lawsuits, farmers, landscapers and home gardeners claim that Monsanto has deceived the public for years, orchestrating a complex – and extremely effective – campaign to attack the credibility of respected medical experts and influence officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At least one EPA official, now retired, has been accused of being a Monsanto stooge.
Glyphosate was designed and introduced to the world market by Monsanto in 1974. When Monsanto introduced Roundup to the US market, the corporation kicked off an agricultural revolution, starting a trend that has now become ubiquitous under the banner of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
In spite of long-standing concerns about the chemical's safety, glyphosate has reached almost every level of the American food supply. The chemical has seeped into our grains and vegetables, leeched into our water and made its way in almost every American's body. In agricultural areas, glyphosate can be found in the rivers and air moisture. Several studies have found significant amounts of glyphosate in the urine of urban dwellers, who live far from the agricultural landscapes where direct exposure would occur.
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