Monsanto loses $289 million lawsuit

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Monsanto lost a key case in a California court last week because of its product glyphosate, opening up more lawsuits across the country.

Photo: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

The company will have to pay $289 million dollars to the plaintiff Dewayne Johnson, $39 million dollars in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

Johnson alleges he developed terminal cancer after working with Roundup herbicide as a groundskeeper, saying Monsanto did not do enough to warn customers on the dangers.

Monsanto argues the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not consider glyphosate as a cancer causing chemical, there are hundreds of studies spanning decades that also show the safety of their product, and there was no evidence that the cancer was contracted after spraying glyphosate.

However, jurors unanimously decided Monsanto's glyphosate-based Roundup caused Johnson's cancer and Monsanto failed to warn of the health hazard, citing the International Agency for Research on Cancer listing of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, which also prompted California's Environmental Protection Agency to list it as well.

According to the plaintiff's lawyer, the jury also found that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.

Johnson's case is the first of its kind to proceed to trial because of his terminal diagnosis.

Monsanto faces more than 4,000 other Roundup cancer cases and says it will appeal the verdict.