Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289M to San Francisco Man after Jury Rules Weedkiller Caused Cancer

Dewayne Johnson
Photo Credit: JOSH EDELSON/Getty

A San Francisco man was awarded $289 million after jury ruled company ‘Round-Up’ (Monsanto’s weedkiller) was responsible for him having cancer. Dewayne Johnson was a former groundskeeper and pest manager for the school district in Benicia, a suburb just north of San Francisco. Some of his duties included “him spraying herbicide to control weeds on school grounds, sometimes for several hours a day.”

Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. In his arguments, he states that his exposure to the chemicals caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cell cancer.

“I’ve been going through a lot of pain,” said Johnson. “It takes everything out of you… I’m not getting any better.”

He also suffers from skin lesions that have taken over his body.

Dewayne Johnson in court
Photo Credit: JOSH EDELSON/Getty

According to CBS News:

“Johnson told the court that during his four years as the groundskeeper at the school district, he sprayed 150 gallons of Roundup 20-30 times a year, CBS San Francisco reports. On the stand, he described what he called his careful use of the product.

“I figured if it could kill weeds it could kill me,” said Johnson. “I took it seriously. That’s why I wore anything I could to protect myself.”

He described two days where he ended up accidentally drenched in the herbicide. He called Monsanto’s consumer hotline, but said the company never called back.

“They could have called him back. It’s a phone call. They could have said there’s studies that show its related to cancer, but they didn’t call him back,” Wisner (attorney) said. 

Johnson was never warned it could cause cancer, Wisner said. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 at age 42.

“The simple fact is he is going to die. It’s just a matter of time,” Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.”

Dewayne Johnson hugging attorney

Photo Credit: JOSH EDELSON/Getty

Monsanto denied that the product is linked to cancer; however, in a research conducted by the World Health Organization it proves that the main ingredient, glyphosate, can be a carcinogen to humans. The jury ruled that “there should have been a label on the product warning consumers of the health hazard.”

Following the verdict, Robert F. Kennedy, a rep from Johnson’s legal team says he hopes this “sends a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto.”

He also adds,

“This jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life.”