Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper who used Monsanto’s popular weed killer, Roundup, and claimed that the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide caused his cancer, was awarded $289 million by a jury in August 2018. This would be the first of what has now amounted to over 125,000 Roundup lawsuits. Monsanto was acquired in 2018 by the German pharmaceutical maker, Bayer AG. As part of the acquisition deal, Bayer became responsible for future Monsanto Roundup trials.
On June 2, nearly two years after Johnson was awarded the damages, an appeals court in California heard arguments over the verdict, which was later reduced to $78 million in damages by a judge.
During the appeal, an attorney for Bayer argued that glyphosate has been found to be non-carcinogenic by regulators around the world. That claim was countered by Johsnon’s lawyer, who argued that for decades, the German-based pharmaceutical giant intentionally has been misleading the scientific community about glyphosate’s effects on human health.
According to a Time profile on Johnson, evidence from the trial included internal Monsanto records. These records revealed discussions of “ghostwriting” scientific papers that asserted the safety of its products. The evidence also uncovered plans by Monsanto to discredit an international agency that declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen.
Johnson’s award, plus two other Roundup trials in the U.S., in which plaintiffs were awarded billions in damages, were the catalyst for the tens of thousands of active lawsuits Bayer is now facing, with thousands more in a holding pattern.
Although Bayer has verbally committed to setting aside $10 billion for Roundup settlements, the company has appealed the two other trials that have resulted in hefty damage awards to plaintiffs, including one to an Oakland, CA couple for $2 billion.
No word yet on when the court will issue their ruling.