Court upholds verdict that Roundup caused California groundskeeper’s lymphoma cancer

A home gardener sprays the herbicide glyphosate from a bottle of Roundup weedkiller.

The California Court of Appeals upheld a multimillion-dollar verdict against Bayer and Monsanto over the link between the weedkiller Roundup and lymphoma. The court agreed with a jury verdict that former groundskeeper Dwayne “Lee” Johnson developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from years of exposure to Roundup. The court reduced the original damages award in the case to $20.5 million.

At the time that he was diagnosed with lymphoma, Johnson had been working for many years as a groundskeeper in northern California. His job duties included mixing and spraying hundreds of gallons of Roundup weedkiller around the properties where he worked. In 2014, Johnson noticed a strange rash on his body. After visiting his doctor, tests revealed that the groundskeeper had developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto in 2016. The lawsuit alleged that the groundskeeper had developed lymphoma as a result of his years of exposure to Roundup. Johnson’s attorneys cited a study by scientists at the World Health Organization, which found that exposure to glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – is linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.

In 2018, a California jury ruled in Johnson’s favor, and awarded him $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. Because California law requires that the ratio between compensatory and punitive damages must be equal, a judge reduced the jury’s combined damages award to $78 million later that year.

Appeals Court Panel Upholds Roundup Verdict

After the verdict was reduced, Bayer and Monsanto filed an appeal in the case. The companies argued that there was no scientific evidence linking Roundup to an increased cancer risk, and asked the appeals court to grant a new trial on the grounds that Johnson had accepted a settlement offer that was much lower than the $78 million verdict that he was eventually awarded.

The California Court of Appeals ruling this month upheld the jury’s original finding that Johnson’s repeated and significant exposure to Roundup caused him to develop cancer. However, the court reduced the damages against Bayer and Monsanto in the case to $20.5 million on the grounds that California law does not allow damages for reduced life expectancy.

The three-judge appeals court panel that reviewed the case wrote that Johnson and his lawyers had presented substantial evidence in support of their allegations that the groundskeeper’s cancer had been caused by Roundup. “In our view, Johnson presented abundant — and certainly substantial — evidence that glyphosate, together with the other ingredients in Roundup products, caused his cancer. Expert after expert provided evidence both that Roundup products are capable of causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and caused Johnson’s cancer in particular,” the panel wrote.

Johnson’s attorneys say that six years after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, their client is now extremely ill and close to death. The attorneys stated that they hoped to challenge the California law that prohibits damages for reduced life expectancy in front of the California Supreme Court.

Bayer, Monsanto Still Facing 125,000 Roundup Lawsuits

The ruling in Johnson’s lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto is separate from the roughly 125,000 claims that the companies still face over the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In June, Bayer agreed to pay $10.9 billion to settle about 100,000 of these lawsuits. However, the judge who is overseeing the case has stated that he may reject the settlement over concerns about a provision in the settlement to create a scientific panel to determine whether or not glyphosate causes cancer. The settlement also would not resolve the claims of roughly 25,000 Roundup plaintiffs who chose not to settle their lawsuits against Bayer and Monsanto.

Legal experts say that the California Court of Appeals’s decision to uphold the jury’s verdict against Bayer and Monsanto in Johnson’s lawsuit could have a significant impact on settlement negotiations in the remaining Roundup claims. Following the appeals court ruling, some experts stated that the verdict and payout may make it more difficult for Bayer and Monsanto to settle the hundreds of thousands of outstanding lawsuits over Roundup.

Roundup Lymphoma Victims May Qualify to File a Lawsuit

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancers linked to glyphosate after using Roundup at home or work, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced product liability attorney, who can guide you through the first steps in filing a claim.

For more information about the Roundup lawsuits against Bayer and Monsanto and to find out whether you are eligible to file a claim, contact the lawyers at Hissey Mulderig & Friend for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page.

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