Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Monsanto Roundup Trial - Closing Arguments, Slides + Photos

I'm catching up today on the glyphosate case of Johnson versus Monsanto by watching the full video (on a private link; it's available for $99/month on Courtroom View Network) of Tuesday's closing arguments from the trial.

Johnson, formerly a Benicia school district groundskeeper, is seeking $412 million in compensation and punitive damages from Monsanto, alleging that using Roundup caused him to get cancer.

Jurors began their deliberations today after a month in which both sides provided experts in toxicology, cancer and epidemiology. Attorneys for the plaintiff presented a Who's Who of leading scientists and clinicians who've led the fight against Roundup who testified on Johnson's behalf.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson who is the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits of
people claiming Monsanto's Roundup gave them cancer
You can get the full flavor of the plaintiff's case here in Johnson's attorney's slides.


You can read all of it in the transcript.

Transcript of closing arguments

Transcripts of the entire proceedings

Here are a few snippets from the slides (below).

The timeline slides along with the photos of plaintiff Dewayne Johnson's cancer's progression were especially telling.

According to attorney Brent  Wisner, Johnson regularly sprayed Ranger Pro (Roundup) for about three hours every other day for his job, releasing about 150 gallons at a time. At times, he was covered with extra heavy doses, when the sprayer malfunctioned.

When his symptoms started to appear, he called Monsanto to ask for medical advice on risks. They did not respond, though documents revealed in court that they were aware of the medical risks. (No warnings on the label).

You can catch a few snippets of these closing arguments in this ABC7 news report.

NBC's coverage includes comments by Zen Honeycutt, of Moms Across America. You can see it here (no embed code available).

Each year the wine industry in California alone uses more than 700,000 pounds of glyphosate on grape vines. Here are maps (from the State Dept. of Health) showing glyphosate usage in Napa  on vineyards alone (47,000+ pounds in 2016) and statewide.

(Note; Napa and Sonoma have the highest childhood cancer rates in the state, although no epidemiological studies have been done to find out the specific links that have led to this situation.)

California classified Roundup as a carcinogen in 2016.

Obviously Johnson's exposures were extreme and not like those of most people who use the chemical in vineyards. But there are 10,000 more cases like his - many of whom were faithful residential users of Roundup - waiting in the wings.

One person from Sonoma county who is involved in vineyards is one of the pending lawsuits.

In Johnson's case, there were so many system failures in his story that led to his (now terminally ill) diagnosis.

Protective Gear

One was the lack of protective gear given him by the Benicia Unified School District. Johnson bought his own, choosing a Tyvek suit that didn't protect against sprays. (It was permeable.)

One wonders if this school district and others are following state laws regarding worker safety.

Many schools have been reconsidering the use of Roundup on school grounds for the issues of children's exposure levels.

The city of Irvine has banned glyphosate from its schools and parks for that reason. There's a new movement afoot to have the chemical banned from all sports fields.

Medical Expertise

The failure of the health care system to protect Johnson is another key ingredient in this story. His own doctors didn't see a link between glyphosate and his symptoms. He does have a rare form of cancer. And the medical establishment doesn't have a protocol for glyphosate based harms that reflects reality.

Johnson also needed to keep working and getting a paycheck to support his family, even as he got sicker, and he obtained a Stanford physician's letter saying he was well enough to work, despite the obvious sores all over his body.

Safety Instructions for Using Roundup

Monsanto was responsible for writing the safety guidelines for using Roundup.

There are still no warnings on the label for Roundup products despite California's attempts to remedy that situation.

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