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Monsanto Will Appeal Order to pay $289 Million to a Man Whose Cancer a Jury Found was Caused by Occupational Exposure to Roundup Weed Killer

As reported by numerous media outlets, a San Francisco jury (in state court) on August 10, 2018 delivered a verdict against Monsanto of $289 million, including $250 million in punitive damages, for a former school groundskeeper dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, proved to the jury that Roundup herbicide was a “substantial contributing factor” in causing his cancer and that Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the product’s cancer risk.  Monsanto has stated that it will appeal the verdict.

Mr. Johnson’s was the first tried of thousands of cases filed by cancer patients or their estates against Monsanto following a March 20, 2015 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”  Most other scientific bodies, however, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Regarding potential exposure to glyphosate from food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported on preliminary results for glyphosate testing that showed no pesticide residue in excess of the EPA tolerances for glyphosate in all four commodities tested (soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs).  New outlets reported in May 2018, however, on internal FDA emails concerning detection of glyphosate at violative levels in unofficial samples of crackers, granola, cornmeal, honey, oatmeal, baby food, and corn (not a designated sample) that were analyzed outside of the planned study.  Official FDA testing for glyphosate in an expanded range of foods began this fiscal year.

The California state court verdict against Monsanto for this plaintiff indicates that EPA’s safety conclusion for glyphosate exposure may not be an insurmountable obstacle to other juries potentially finding that Roundup caused or contributed to thousands of other plaintiffs’ cancers.

© 2019 Keller and Heckman LLP

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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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