289 Million Dollar Verdict in Roundup Lawsuit
September 6th, 2018
Plaintiff in First Roundup Lawsuit Verdict Awarded $289 Million
On August 10, 2018, the first Roundup lawsuit filed against Monsanto concluded when a San Francisco jury awarded plaintiff Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages. Dewayne Johnson filed a lawsuit against the biotechnical manufacturer after developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of prolonged exposure to a chemical called glyphosate, which was used in manufacturing Roundup weed killer. Monsanto now faces more than 5,000 lawsuits from individuals, and their loved ones, who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after prolonged exposure to Roundup.
Roundup Lawsuits Across the Country
Not only does Monsanto face a growing number of lawsuits across the country, they are also the named defendant in a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in San Francisco, California. While the case involving Dewayne Johnson was not a bellwether trial, the verdict has sparked much debate in regards to how the rest of the Roundup lawsuits will be decided. For updates regarding the Roundup MDL, MDL No. 2741, check the United States District Court for the Norther District of California’s website.
Product liability claims become more complex when an individual’s injuries are as severe as the development of cancer. Corporations have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep consumers safe when developing and marketing goods and services. Despite the $289 million verdict, Monsanto insists that Roundup weed killer is safe. “We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use,” said Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s Vice President of Global Strategy.
Roundup Verdict Stirs Mixed Reactions
From the $289 million verdict, $39 million was awarded in compensatory damages and $250 in punitive damages. Of the compensatory damages awarded, $37 million was because of pain and emotional distress and $2.3 million was for past and future economic losses. The jury in this case deliberated for more than 2 days after hearing four weeks of testimony from expert witnesses and doctors. The jury’s decision was unanimous except for the amount of punitive damages awarded, which one juror dissented.
What Makes Roundup Harmful?
The controversy surrounding whether glyphosate, a chemical used in Roundup, can cause cancer, continues even after the Roundup verdict. Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health report that glyphosate products are safe for use when used according to the label instructions. In Mr. Johnson’s case, he used the product for years and developed severe rashes and lesions after the product once spilled from the container onto his body. While it is unclear how future Roundup lawsuits will be decided; it will be interesting to see how the evidence presented regarding the medical significance of glyphosate will be interpreted.
Priyanka Kasnavia is an online marketing specialist who has been working at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., for over a year. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2017 with a degree in Strategic Communication and has been accepted to the University of Houston Law Center starting fall of 2018. Priyanka's expertise centers on search engine optimization and content creation.