A San Francisco jury has found in favor of a school groundskeeper dying of cancer whose lawyers argued that a weed killer made by the agribusiness giant Monsanto likely caused his disease.
In its decision on Friday, the jury awarded the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, nearly $290 million in damages.
Johnson’s lawsuit against Monsanto was the first case to go to trial in a string of legal complaints alleging the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He sprayed Roundup and another Monsanto product, Ranger Pro, as part of his job as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, his attorneys have said.
He developed a bad rash and was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, when he was 42. Johnson, 46, did not answer calls for comment by NBC News.
The jurors at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California, who deliberated for nearly three days, found that the corporation failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its weed-killing products.
They awarded Johnson some $250 million in punitive damages and $33 million in compensatory damages.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was classified as a probable human carcinogen three years ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a wing of the World Health Organization.
Monsanto, for its part, vehemently denies a link between glyphosate and cancer, frequently pointing to studies that have found the ingredient is safe. The company was acquired by the German pharmaceuticals and chemicals conglomerate Bayer AG earlier this year.
The outcome of the trial will not have a direct affect on the slew of other Roundup-related suits in state and federal courts. But it could serve as a bellwether for other cases in the queue.