Earlier this year, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $293,000,000 to Dwayne Johnson, a groundskeeper for a local school district in Solano County, California who is dying from cancer. For years, Johnson drove a truck with a 50-gallon tank of Monsanto’s weed killer mounted on board. He would go through hundreds of gallons of the pesticide a week doing his job – an exposure that caused him to be diagnosed with a fatal form of cancer. The jury found the link between the weed killer and his cancer and awarded $39 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages.
In excess of 300 other victims have filed similar lawsuits across the country alleging Monsanto’s weed killer, Roundup, causes cancer. In the lawsuits, victims with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are claiming that Monsanto has known for years that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is a known carcinogen, yet Monsanto ignored the risks and exposed consumers nonetheless.
Monsanto Vice President, Scott Partridge, denies any connection between glyphosate and cancer. In previous years, Monsanto sued California’s office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for including glyphosate on a list of cancer-causing chemicals — the lawsuit was unsuccessful. Since then, Monsanto has strongly denied the connection between glyphosate and cancer and reiterated hundreds of studies have proved that the chemical is safe.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has conflicting opinions on whether glyphosate is a possible carcinogen. However, the World Health Organization has labeled glyphosate as a “probable carcinogenic.”
Interestingly, Monsanto’s interaction with the EPA regarding Roundup studies was presented to the jury in Johnson’s case in the form of internal documents between the two organizations, which showed Monsanto had reason to believe glyphosate may cause cancer as early as 1983.
“Moving forward, we will continue to defend these lawsuits with robust evidence that proves there is absolutely no connection between glyphosate and cancer,” Monsanto’s Partridge said in a statement. “We have sympathy for anyone suffering from cancer, but the science clearly shows that glyphosate was not the cause.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs are still reviewing the ruling, but believe it is a step in the right direction that the judge overruled Monsanto’s effort to have the lawsuits thrown out.
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