Bayer-Monsanto have announced that they will not be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a $20.6 million verdict awarded to former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Lee Johnson, who proved that their glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup causes cancer.
Source: USRTK, By Carey Gillam
A unanimous jury found in August 2018 that exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides, known best by the brand name Roundup, caused Johnson to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury further found that Monsanto acted to hide the risks of its products in conduct so egregious that the company should pay Johnson $250 million in punitive damages on top of $39 million in past and future compensatory damages, USRTK reported.
Upon appeal from Monsanto, which was purchased by the German company Bayer AG in 2018, the trial judge reduced the $289 million to $78 million. Monsanto appealed seeking either a new trial or a reduced award. Johnson cross-appealed seeking reinstatement of his full damage award.
The appeals court in the case then cut the award to $20.5 million, citing the fact that Johnson was expected to live only a short time.
The court reduced the damages award despite finding there was “abundant” evidence that glyphosate, together with the other ingredients in Roundup products, caused Johnson’s cancer and that “there was overwhelming evidence that Johnson has suffered, and will continue to suffer for the rest of his life, significant pain and suffering.”
The Johnson trial was covered by media outlets around the world and put a spotlight on Monsanto’s efforts to manipulate the scientific record on glyphosate and Roundup and its efforts to quiet critics and influence regulators. Lawyers for Johnson presented jurors with internal company emails and other records showing Monsanto scientists discussing ghostwriting scientific papers to try to shore up support for the safety of the company’s products, along with communications detailing plans to discredit critics, and to quash a government evaluation of the toxicity of glyphosate, the key chemical in Monsanto’s products.
Johnson’s trial victory spurred a frenzied filing of tens of thousands of additional lawsuits. Monsanto lost three out of three trials before agreeing this June to pay more than $10 billion to settle close to 100,000 such claims.
Recently, dozens of U.S. law firms formed a coalition to fight a new $2 billion settlement proposal by Monsanto owner Bayer AG that aims to contain the company’s ongoing liability related to future claims.
In a recent interview before Bayer admitted defeat, Johnson said he knew the legal battle with Monsanto could continue for many more years but he was committed to trying to hold the company accountable. He has managed to keep his illness in check so far with regular chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but is not certain how long that will continue.
“I don’t think any amount would be enough to punish that company,” Johnson said.