A team of lawyers from three law firms secured a major verdict against Monsanto Company on behalf of the plaintiff, a groundskeeper, for the agrochemical giant’s failure to warn consumers that exposure to its product, Roundup weed killer, causes cancer. The plaintiff was awarded by $289.2 million, which includes $250 million in punitive damages.
Lawyers for the plaintiff in the landmark trial, Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company, include members of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, P.C. of Los Angeles, Audet & Partners LLP of San Francisco and The Miller Firm, LLC of Orange, Virginia. These firms represent thousands of Roundup cancer plaintiffs across the nation, and this verdict does leave open the possibility that similar ones will be awarded in future cases.
Johnson filed the lawsuit (case no. CGC-16-550128) against St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. on Jan. 28, 2016, alleging exposure to the Roundup herbicide he sprayed while working as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
After 8 weeks of trial proceedings, the jury found unanimously that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused Mr. Johnson to develop NHL, and that Monsanto failed to warn of this severe health hazard. Importantly, the jury also found that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct. Coincidentally, Bayer recently closed its acquisition of Monsanto in June, and its stock has taken a hit in the wake of this verdict.
Monsanto Co. continues to refuse to warn consumers of the dangers of its multi-billion-dollar product Roundup despite the world’s foremost authority on cancer—the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—listing glyphosate as a probable carcinogen in 2015.
“Many of these confidential Monsanto documents were unsealed for the first time,” said co-lead counsel David Dickens of the Miller Firm. “They show that Monsanto knew that its testing was insufficient and that there was a synergistic effect when glyphosate is combined with surfactants which help the glyphosate penetrate both plant and animal cell walls.”