Dewayne Johnson was looking for about $400 million in punitive damages and $39 million in compensatory damages from Monsanto, his legal professional Timothy Litzenburg mentioned.
Johnson’s victory Friday may set a large precedent for 1000’s of different circumstances towards Monsanto.
Johnson was the primary of a whole bunch of most cancers sufferers to take the corporate to courtroom over its well-liked weedkiller, Roundup.
Since then, a whole bunch extra plaintiffs — together with most cancers sufferers, their spouses or their estates — have additionally sued the agricultural large, making comparable claims.
Lesions on a lot of his physique
Johnson, 46, utilized Roundup weedkiller 20 to 30 instances per 12 months whereas working as a groundskeeper for a college district close to San Francisco, his attorneys mentioned.
He testified that in his work, he had two accidents wherein he was doused with the product. The primary accident occurred in 2012.
Two years later, in 2014, he was identified with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Litzenburg mentioned probably the most heartbreaking a part of Johnson’s testimony was when the daddy of two described telling his sons that he had terminal most cancers. Johnson’s spouse now works two 40-hour-per-week jobs to help the household, Litzenburg mentioned.
How carcinogenic (or not) are Roundup and glyphosate?
The large questions at stake had been whether or not Roundup may cause most cancers and, in that case, whether or not Monsanto didn’t warn shoppers in regards to the product’s most cancers danger.
“For the herbicide glyphosate, there was restricted proof of carcinogenicity in people for non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” the report states.
“Greater than 800 scientific research, the US EPA, the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and regulators world wide have concluded that glyphosate is secure to be used and doesn’t trigger most cancers,” mentioned Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice chairman of technique.
“Many had already been utilizing Roundup and different formulated merchandise (since) it first got here available on the market,” Partridge mentioned.
“All of us have sympathy for Mr. Johnson,” Partridge mentioned. “It is pure he is in search of solutions. Glyphosate will not be the reply.”
However Litzenburg mentioned glyphosate is not the massive downside — Roundup is. He mentioned the interplay between glyphosate and different substances in Roundup trigger a “synergistic impact” that makes the product extra carcinogenic.
Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord disputed that notion, saying regulatory authorities assist guarantee Roundup as a complete is secure.
“The protection of every labeled use of a pesticide formulation should be evaluated and authorized by regulatory authorities earlier than it’s licensed on the market,” she mentioned.
What did Johnson need to show?
Whereas it is unattainable to show Roundup brought on Johnson’s terminal sickness, it is also unattainable for Monsanto to show Roundup didn’t trigger his most cancers.
“Most cancers is a really troublesome case to attempt,” Litzenburg mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t X-ray it or biopsy it and are available again with what brought on it.”
On this case, Monsanto was not required to show something. The burden of proof was on Johnson, the plaintiff.
However that does not imply Johnson’s crew needed to show Roundup was the only reason for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The query was whether or not Roundup was a “substantial contributing issue” to Johnson’s sickness.
“Underneath California legislation, which means Mr. Johnson’s most cancers wouldn’t have occurred however for his publicity to Roundup,” Monsanto spokeswoman Lord mentioned.
She famous that it is doable his most cancers may have developed from one thing unrelated to Roundup.
Litzenburg agreed that the majority non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma circumstances haven’t been linked to at least one major cause prior to now. However he mentioned the tide is beginning to flip — much like the way it took a long time for individuals to study that tobacco could be a massive contributing issue for lung most cancers.
“You’ll be able to’t take a lung most cancers tumor and run a check that proves that tobacco brought on that most cancers. … You are seeing the identical factor right here,” Litzenburg mentioned. “I feel we’re at first of that period of this dawning on us as a rustic — as a public — the connection between these two issues.”
1000’s of circumstances to comply with
Litzenburg mentioned he and different attorneys have greater than 2,000 comparable circumstances awaiting trial in numerous state courts.
He estimates one other 400 circumstances have been filed in federal multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
MDL is much like a class-action lawsuit as a result of it consolidates pre-trial proceedings for the sake of effectivity. However not like a class-action lawsuit, every case inside an MDL will get its personal trial — with its personal end result.
In different phrases, one MDL plaintiff may get a big settlement, whereas one other plaintiff may get nothing.
No dates have been set for these MDL trials, Litzenburg mentioned.
However one benefit of submitting in state courtroom — as Johnson did — as an alternative of by way of MDL is that state courts generally produce an end result quicker.
And in Johnson’s case, time is essential.