Malice and Negligence Evidence at Trial
During Johnson’s trial, his doctor testified that his patient has less than three years to live. And enough scientific evidence was presented to connect Monsanto's Roundup herbicide to Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.
Also during the trial, internal company emails showed that Johnson called Monsanto reporting concerns that his cancer may have been triggered by a work accident where the herbicide left him “soaked to the skin”. Johnson’s concerns were ignored.
In a heart-wrenching story published by Time.com (Nov 21, 2018) Johnson described how he developed a deadly type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being soaked with the company’s herbicides when the sprayer he was operating broke. He told a Time reporter that “Plenty of things upset me as the evidence came out in court. I had called the big company [Monsanto] early on when I was sick trying to get some answers and at the time the woman I talked to on the phone was real nice. But you see in the emails that came out that there was really no concern for me. They never called me back, that made me mad. I think not getting a call back is what made me pursue legal action.”
The internal Monsanto memos at trial showed that a Monsanto product support specialist wrote to Dan Goldstein, Monsanto’s medical sciences and outreach executive, regarding Johnson’s call in November 2014, when he told Monsanto he had been “soaked to the skin” in a work accident. Goldstein replied that the “story is not making any sense to me at all,” and said he would call Johnson back. But Johnson said he never received a call and Goldstein testified he could not remember whether or not he called Johnson, according to the Associated Press.
Glyphosate a Carcinogen
Johnson's lawsuit was built on the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 stating that glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and despite the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 finding the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans after a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks.
In 2014, the same year Johnson was diagnosed with cancer, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said that food manufacturers and chemical companies are “running a dangerous experiment with the food we eat’. David Mortensen, a Pennsylvania State University weed scientist, said, “This is not a minor tweak in our agriculture system…There are downsides when you use pesticides like this.”
One of those downsides is death.
Second Monsanto Bellwether
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Monsanto Defeated, Bayer Appeal
Judge Suzanne Bolanos denied Monsanto’s request for a new trial, but reduced the $289 million damages award to $78 million to comply with the law regarding how punitive damages awards must be calculated.
Legal experts say Monsanto’s defeat likely opens the door to thousands of other claims against the company, which is now Bayer’s problem. Its share price dropped by more than 30 percent since this verdict, and the Big Pharma company is facing about 9,300 U.S. glyphosate lawsuits. Johnson’s attorneys in April offered Monsanto a settlement of $6 million – Monsanto likely wishes it hadn’t turned down that offer.