Jurors give $289 million to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.
During a massive precedent case, San Francisco jurors ruled that the globally popular brand of fertilizer, Roundup created by the company Monsanto, gave a former school groundskeeper terminal lymphoma
While the money does not change the fact that the groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, has terminal cancer,non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be exact, there is no doubt that he will live out his remaining years as comfortable as possible and that his family will be taken care of upon his devastating loss. Thanks to the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Johnson’s body is around 80% covered in very painful skin lesions.
Monsanto has long claimed that their product, Roundup, does not cause cancer The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states in March of 1025 that glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
But Timothy Litzenburg, Johnson’s attorney says that glyphosate alone is not the problem, it’s the combination of ingredients used in Roundup.
Thousands of cases are awaiting trial, but Johnson’s was the very first because, in the State of California, terminal plaintiffs are given expedited trials. Litzenburg stated that he and other attorneys have over 4,000 cases awaiting future trial. He also estimates that there are possibly over 400 cases in federal multidistrict litigation. The main issue that arises in this kind of case is trying to prove that the product caused cancer in the first place. The burden of proof does not belong to Monsanto but to Johnson and other plaintiffs like him.
His lawyer said that what makes it so difficult is that you can’t take an x-ray or a biopsy that will tell you how and when it all began. According to the American Cancer Society, most lymphoma cases are idiopathic, meaning that the causes are unknown.
While Litzenburg agrees that most lymphoma cases in the past could not be linked to a direct cause, he believes that the advancements in medicine are beginning to change that. He cites the that while it is now a known fact that tobacco is a significant contributing factor in the development of lung cancer, it took decades before that was even regarded as a serious hypothesis.
“You can’t take a lung cancer tumor and run a test that proves that tobacco caused that cancer. … You’re seeing the same thing here,” Litzenburg said. “I think we’re in the beginning of that era of this dawning on us as a country — as a public — the connection between these two things.”
Regardless, officials in Monsanto heavily deny that Roundup plays any role in acting as a contributing factor for lymphoma.
“More than 800 scientific studies, the US EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer,” said ScottPartridge, Monsanto’s vice president of strategy.
Patridge’s, which made an in-depth study into the effect of pesticides and glyphosates on farmers and those around them between the years of 1993 and 2003.
He notes that many of these people have been using Roundup since it’s very inception as well as other Monsanto products. A summary of that study said, “no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).”
Despite all of this, there are several more cases that are going to go trial in the upcoming months and years, and if they can link Roundup and its ingredients as a contributing factor to lymphoma and possibly other deadly cancers then Monsanto is going to have to either completely change the way they make pesticides or completely drop the products altogether.
As of now, they plan to appeal this case and strongly defend Roundup, a product that has been around for over 40 years around the world. Although, Litzenburg says they are going to likely drop the case because the company would have to pay interest on damages, which is about $25 million for every year the case stay in the trial process – a seemingly insurmountable figure.