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A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused him cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages.
The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.
The jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers.
It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages.
Monsanto denies that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, causes cancer and says decades of scientific studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use.
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. Johnson’s doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020.
A former pest control manager for a California county school system, Johnson, 46, applied the weed killer up to 30 times per year.