Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in Roundup cancer trial

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto

A California jury ordered chemical giant Monsanto to pay almost $290 million Friday for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that its weed killer Roundup might cause cancer.

Partridge said that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue, saying if anything the company would work harder to demonstrate the weed killer is safe.

Johnson's is the first of hundreds of cancer-patient cases against Monsanto and could be a bellwether of what lies ahead for the company.

The company has denied ties between glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and cancer. The trial was expedited because his doctors said he was unlikely to survive past 2020.

In the meantime, Cummins said his group looks forward to the next steps in its own lawsuit against Monsanto, which charges the company has long misled consumers about the safety of Roundup for humans and pets. It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying.

"'We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family", Partridge said.

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Monsanto has said it will appeal the verdict.

He sprayed large quantities from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck and during gusty winds the product would cover his face, one of his lawyers Brent Wisner told the court.

Johnson's case, filed in 2016, was fast-tracked for trial due to the severity of his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system that he alleges was caused by Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide.

Once, when a hose broke, the weed killer soaked his entire body.

According to his attorneys, Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer.

Johnson, a California groundskeeper diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a cancer that affects white blood cells - says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.

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"The simple fact is he is going to die".

In the past, Monsanto sued California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for adding glyphosate to a list of cancer causing chemicals, and lost.

The World Health Organization's cancer research agency classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015, but said there was "limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma" based on studies from US, Canada and Sweden published since 2001.

"Monsanto made Roundup the oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost", said Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, a US environmental organization that researches toxic chemicals and advocates for corporate accountability. "It's just a matter of time", Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.

Johnson was awarded a total of about $39 million in past and future losses, both economic and noneconomic, but it was the $250 million in punitive damages that seemed to take the courtroom's breath away, as a sigh was heard on a video recording when Bolanos made the announcement.

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