Monsanto Company is known as a multibillion-dollar agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company. They are most well known for their high profile lawsuits regarding their glyphosate-based herbicide used as a weedkiller for farms. Their genetically modified products have received a lot of flack from the media, consumers, farmers, and safety standard regulators. Now they are dealing with a lawsuit like they have never seen before.
The Daily Mail reported,
“Roundup does cause c*ncer, a jury has declared in an unprecedented trial into the health dangers of Monsanto’s weedkiller. After three days of deliberations, jurors on Friday sided with terminally-ill groundsman Dewayne Johnson, 46, who has just weeks to live, awarding him $250 million in punitive damages, plus nearly $40m in compensatory damages, bringing the total to $289m. Specifically, in eight weeks of proceedings, the jury was left convinced that Monsanto’s product caused Johnson’s c*ncer. Addressing a press conference on Friday evening, Johnson thanked his legal team, his wife, Araceli, and their two sons.
‘It’s taken a lot of prayer, I’ve taken energy from a lot of people. I’m glad to be here to help. Hopefully this thing will start to get the attention it needs. This case is way bigger than me,’ he said. Johnson’s wife spends 14 hours a day working two jobs, lawyer Brent Wisner told the press conference. She was working when her husband’s verdict came through, he added. When Johnson’s compensation is released he hopes to use it to enable his to spend more time with him and their children, Wisner said. He may also use it to fund a bone marrow transplant. Monsanto will appeal the verdict and the compensation will only be released when this has been heard. Johnson’s lawyers will ask the appellate court to speed up the appeal so the money can be released while their client is still alive.
The groundskeeper, who worked for years in Benicia, California, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a c*ncer that starts in the white bloods cells – in August 2014. He mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup to keep grass and weeds under control. The liable verdict means the case could open the door to hundreds of additional lawsuits against the company recently acquired by German-based pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer. The first-of-its-kind verdict was delayed as jurors spent hours analyzing the timeline of Johnson’s symptoms, the validity of his expert witness’s testimony, and the discrepancies between Monsanto’s medical findings and that of their critics. The jury also found Monsanto ‘acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct,’ Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court in San Francisco.
Reacting to the verdict, co-lead trial counsel Brent Wisner said it was a result of newly-revealed, confidential company documents. ‘We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause c*ncer,’ Wisner said. ‘Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits.’ Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said it was a victory for all workers. ‘Monsanto made Roundup the oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost,’ he said. ‘This won’t cure DeWayne Lee Johnson’s c*ncer, but it will send a strong message to a renegade company.'”
Monsanto has long had problems related to lawsuits regarding their controversial products. These products include Agent Orange, PCB’s, DDT’s, and growth hormones. The primary complaints regarding their products related to threats to biodiversity as well as criticisms regarding biopiracy. The products have led to controversies not just in the United States but also in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and the United Kingdom.
In 2013, Monsanto was accused of having nine active Superfund sites and 32 that were archived and no longer in use. On multiple occasions, they were sued for causing damage to their employee’s health due to pollution and poisoning. Later that year, they were facing close to $1 million in financial penalties due to alleged violations of the Plant Protection Act which were due to the discovery of a volunteer plan found in an Oregon farm.
In the same year, the March Against Monsanto was held in approximately 436 cities and 52 different countries where millions were cited as joining in. It was so successful that in May 2014 a year later that another was held in 400 cities and 52 various counties with millions of activists joining in.
Another issue occurred several years prior over the span of three years from 2009 to 2011. Monsanto was reportedly guilty of improperly accounting for their incentive rebates. These profits resulted in a $31 million increased in profit over the time period. As a result, they were fined $80 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Shortly thereafter, the company overhauled their internal controls and two of the top Monsanto CPAs were suspended and new hiring began.
Clearly, Monsanto has had a problem with running their business clean. Now, a victim finally gets the justice they are owed. The hundreds of millions of dollars he was given was just a dip into the pot for a multi-billion company like Monsanto. But, at the end of the day, the only way to hurt companies like Monsanto is to hit their pocket.
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