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First Glyphosate Roundup Trial Ends in Major Victory for Dying Plaintiff: Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million

On Friday, after two and a half days of deliberation, the jury in the case Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company, et. al. determined the plaintiff's terminal cancer was caused partially by exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. 

Monsanto has been ordered to pay the Johnson family $39 million in compensatory damages and an additional $250 million in punitive damages.  Johnson's injury was the first glyphosate cancer-related case to go to trial.  Approximately 4,500 additional cancer lawsuits are pending in state courts across the country.

When Judge Suzanne Ramos-Bolanos announced the verdict, she read aloud three questions that had been posed to the jury: (1) “Did Monsanto know or should reasonably have known that users would not realize the danger?” (2) “Did Monsanto fail to adequately warn of the danger?” and (3) “Was Monsanto’s failure to warn a substantial factor in causing harm to Johnson?”  The jury found Monsanto liable on all three points.

Monsanto, which was bought by German-based Bayer AG earlier this summer, continues to stand by its position that glyphosate is a “safe tool for farmers and others” and will “continue to vigorously defend this product,” according to Monsanto vice-president Scott Partridge.

Indeed? In early 2015, Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, a critic of the environmental movement and pro-corporate spokesperson, went on a French news program, defending glyphosate.  During the interview, Moore declared, “You can drink a whole quart of it and it won't hurt you.”  However, when presented with an opportunity to do just that, he backed away from his position, saying “No, I'm not an idiot.”

It should be pointed out that Moore was not a Monsanto lobbyist nor a paid spokesperson for the company.  However, the fact that, as a scientist, he refused to demonstrate his professed faith in the product speaks volumes.  The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen,” and Monsanto lost a legal battle last year to keep glyphosate off the State of California's list of substances “known to cause cancer.”

One thing is certain: Johnson’s verdict sends a strong message to corporate poisoners like Monsanto that continue to foist toxic chemicals onto an unsuspecting public who are told those products are “safe.”