In an episode that has rocked the Plaintiff’s bar, chemical maker Monsanto, a Bayer Company, was on the wrong end of a verdict that will cost them $289,000,000!
Round Up is a weed killer that most of us have used or had in our homes at some point in our lives, whether in our own homes or the homes of our parents. Beyond being told to wash our hands after spraying some offending weed, most of us never thought twice about using it, a product that is now a household name. Most – but not all. One man, in particular, used Round Up on an almost daily basis in his job as a groundskeeper for a city school system – Mr. Dewayne Johnson. That use cost him his health, and after a length court battle, cost the company the made the chemical $289 million!
The facts of the case are simple only initially: Mr. Johnson sprayed weeds with Round Up while working for a school system near San Francisco over a two-year period. After that, Mr. Johnson developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer that affects the white blood cells and lymph nodes of a person’s immune system. Mr. Johnson’s lawyers made the argument that exposure to Round Up’s ingredient glyphosate (as well as a combination of glyphosate with other chemicals in Round Up) contributed to and/or caused Mr. Johnson’s condition.
Monsanto’s closest locations to Alexandria are an office in DC and a distributor in Galena, Md.
Monsanto, the manufacturer, of course disputes that. The jury, however, did not. Their verdict breaks down the damages into two categories:
Compensatory (awarded for pain and suffering, time lost from work, medical expenses, etc): $39 million
Punitive (punishment for wrong-doing or negligent acts): $250 million
Mr. Johnson’s case is not unique, in that there are thousands of others who have made or are in the process of making claims against Monsanto. Normally, Plaintiffs from across the nation are joined into a federal “class-action” cases under the umbrella term “multi-jurisdictional litigation.” This allows one central US District Court to control and coordinate the cases, and keep the litigation, more or less, on track. Mr. Johnson’s case, however, was not part of that – Mr. Johnson’s case was filed in the San Francisco Superior Court due to an unfortunate exigent circumstance – Mr. Johnson was terminally ill.
Taken in toto, this verdict is a shot against companies that know their product is dangerous, but choose to sell them anyway – or for as long as they can get away with.
Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, Mr. Timothy Litzenburg, made a comment to a reporter that by the time he had gotten back to his office [when the verdict was announced], he had almost 200 calls from others who had been exposed. That is perhaps the most important take-away from this story. People are harmed by others all the time, whether those harms come from overt acts, omissions, of products. Most people never report those claims, and never pursue them. But this statement proves that the injuries are reals, and the claimants exist. This case is not only a reminder to corporations to do business properly and safely, but also a beacon to the injured to tell someone they have been injured – and be prepared for their day in Court.
The Alexandria Injury Attorney has experience advancing the causes of clients who have been injured due to a defective product, harmful substance, or willful inaction on the part of manufacturer, retailer, or other company. If you have been the victim of someone’s negligence, contact us today – 703-879-5910
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