(RNN) – A jury has awarded $289 million to a man who claimed the weed killer Roundup gave him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Dewayne Johnson, 46, was a groundskeeper for the school district in Benicia, CA, north of San Francisco. He argued in court that years of using Roundup led him to being diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
On Friday, the jury sided with Johnson. They said Monsanto, an agribusiness giant known for its chemical products like Roundup and genetically modified organism (GMO) food products, such as seeds and crops, did not provide adequate warnings of Roundup’s risks.
The company, which was recently purchased by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, had argued there weren’t any risks. After Friday’s verdict a company executive, Scott Partridge, maintained that glyphosate is “safe for use and does not cause cancer.”
In December, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a draft risk assessment that the pesticide glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
However the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization, said in a 2015 report that it was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
According to CNN, Monsanto faces thousands more similar suits from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients.
“The jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life,” one of Johnson’s attorneys, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., said.
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) August 10, 2018
In court, Johnson’s lawyers said his industrial use of Roundup resulted in frequent bodily contact, including at least two work accidents in which he was covered with the chemical.
They said he even once contacted Monsanto after developing a rash, and wasn’t told of any risk, the AP reported.
Since contracting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Johnson has developed lesions all over his body and sometimes struggles to speak. One of his lawyers said “it’s just a matter of time” until he dies.
Johnson had sought more than $400 million in the case. Monsanto said it will appeal.
Johnson has two children and a wife, Araceli, who now works two jobs to take care of the family.
— Baum Hedlund Law (@baumhedlund) August 10, 2018