A recent personal injury case against agricultural manufacturer Monsanto is being appealed, but waiting in the wings are thousands of more lawsuits. The legal situation is being watched with bated breath around the world, but what was the case all about?
Monsanto, now owned by giant chemical company Bayer, has been making broad based herbicides Roundup and Ranger Pro, the brand names for what have been very popular herbicides for about forty years. The use of the herbicide is almost universal in both domestic and commercial applications. Few other herbicides come close to the efficiency of these products in killing unwanted weeds. The only problem is that there have been concerns that it kills more than weeds. While the science has been hotly disputed, the court case in California hinged on a WHO agency, Research for Cancer’s 2015 report, that Roundup “was probably carcinogenic.” All the lawsuits pending relate to people who have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Plaintiffs allege that contact with Roundup has caused their cancer, a claim that has been dismissed by Monsanto.
Dewayne Johnson, regular Roundup user, is dying of cancer
The successful lawsuit in California revolves around the fate of a San Francisco school district groundkeeper, Dewayne Johnson. Johnson had used Roundup regularly for many years as part of his job. He estimated that he had probably used it to remove weeds at least every two weeks. He remembers at least twice being covered all over in Roundup. He developed non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and by the time the court appearance had only limited time left before dying of the disease. His body was largely covered in lesions, typical of the disease and a condition that has left Johnson very weak and in constant pain.
In California, terminally ill plaintiffs have the opportunity to jump the queue when it comes to going to trial which meant that of all the lawsuits already filed across the country, Johnson’s was the first to be heard.
The Monsanto vs. Johnson verdict finds in favor of the terminally ill plaintiff
The court case ran three days before returning a verdict in favor of Johnson and against Monsanto. Johnson was awarded $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. Johnson’s lawyers argued that it wasn’t Roundup’s principal ingredient, glyphosate, by itself that caused the groundkeeper’s cancer, but a combination of glyphosate and other chemical ingredients in Roundup. The key to the case was that Monsanto has refused to admit any danger of developing cancer through using Roundup and therefore has never issued a warning to users of its potential carcinogenic qualities.
Monsanto is appealing the decision, adamant that its own research and that of other scientists has shown that Roundup is not carcinogenic. Other cancer sufferers who have filed their own lawsuits against the company allege that the EPA itself has been protecting Monsanto all along. Johnson will earn interest on the compensation payment while the appeal process talks place, which according to Bayer executives could take at least a year to be heard in California’s appellate court.
Bayer only took over Monsanto in June this year and as a result of the Johnson case has already experienced a 10% drop in its share value. The company says that the number of lawsuits that have now been filed by cancer sufferers alleging a link with Roundup use has climbed to over 8,000. Bayer has claimed that its sales revenue is undiminished despite the California ruling and refuses to settle any of the claims out of court. Bayer bought Monsanto for a sum of $63 billion earlier this year.
If you have developed an illness over time and suspect that it could be due to exposure to some sort of chemical and have never been told that the chemical was dangerous to your health, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer distributor of the product if it can be proven to be dangerous. Talk to a personal injury attorney at Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville at 866-820-4457.