Jury presses judge not to overturn $289 million weed killer cancer verdict

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Dewayne “Lee” Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict in his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. Jurors found that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer contributed to the school groundskeeper’s cancer, a newspaper reported Monday, Oct. 15. (Josh Edelson/Pool Photo via AP, File)


Members of a California jury that awarded a terminally ill man more than $289 million after ruling that his cancer was caused by ingredients in a weed killer, urged a judge not to overturn the monetary decision, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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Former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson may never get a dime of the multi-million dollar award after Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, said she was considering Monsanto’s request to overturn the verdict and possibly reduce the damages awarded.

Johnson was a groundskeeper who used Monsanto’s weed killer ‘Roundup’ regularly while spraying it on the grounds he worked on in the San Francisco Bay Area school district.

A jury at the Superior Court of California determined that ‘Roundup’ played a “substantial factor” in his deteriorating health. Johnson developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma which was at least partly due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup.

“You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Bolanos.

“I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.”

Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.

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On Wednesday Howard and Kitahata were two of among eight jurors and two alternates who attended a public hearing where Bolanos said she was possibly going to overturn the jury’s decision and reduce the amount to $8 million.

Fighting for His Rights

On August 10, the agricultural company was deemed liable in a lawsuit filed by Johnson, who alleged that Roundup caused his cancer. About 80 percent of his body is now covered in lesions, CNN reported, and his doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020. The news outlet also noted that his victory could set a precedent for thousands of other cases claiming the herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Monsanto has rejected the jury’s decision that its popular weed killer causes terminal cancer.

After the verdict, the company issued a statement saying it stands by the studies that suggest Roundup does not cause cancer.