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Jury rules Monsanto liable in weed killer case

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It was a landmark verdict in the case against Monsanto on Friday. A jury awarded a former Benicia School District groundskeeper with terminal cancer $289.2 million dollars.

Dewayne Lee Johnson's attorneys says that $289 million verdict means he will be able to afford some cutting edge treatments.

This is a day they did not expect him to survive to see.

The jury deliberated for two and a half days after eight weeks of trial proceedings.

You could see Mr. Johnson overcome with emotion as the verdict was read, the jury finding that weed killers manufactured by Monsanto, Roundup and Ranger Pro, were substantial factors in causing harm to him.

Johnson worked for the Benicia School District in 2012 as the integrative pest manager. A large part of his job was to spray these products in bulk 30 times a year.

Two and a half years into the job, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

This is the first of thousands of cases like it against Monsanto. "I think it's exactly like the tobacco trials. Monsanto, for 40 years, has been taking the playbook from the tobacco industry, ghostwriting science, buying science, using all the different PR strategies and the legal strategies to confuse the science to blur the science and I'm so glad that this jury held them accountable," said Johnson's attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Monsanto VP Scott Partridge said, "No, it's not a fair analysis at all. We all know tobacco causes cancer, glyphosate does not cause cancer. It's been perfectly safe and that's been demonstrated for more than four decades. I don't know how they got it wrong but they did, they got it wrong."

Johnson is a father and husband. Again, his attorneys have said throughout this trial, that he's on borrowed time as his cancer is terminal.

Monsanto's VP says they will appeal this case. He also said they have no plans to settle future cases in light of Friday's verdict.

Monsanto's VP Scott Partidge released a statement regarding Friday's verdict:

"We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family. Today's decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews - and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world - support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr. Johnson's cancer. We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others."

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