Jurors give $289 million to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller - Canadanewsmedia
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Jurors give $289 million to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller

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So they awarded him $289 million in damages — mostly to punish the agricultural company Monsanto.
Dewayne Johnson’s victory Friday could set a massive precedent for thousands of other cases claiming Monsato’s famous herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial because doctors said he was near death. And in California, dying plaintiffs can be granted expedited trials.
Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict in a California superior court.
CNN reported last year that more than 800 patients were suing Monsanto, claiming Roundup gave them cancer.
Since then, hundreds more plaintiffs — including cancer patients, their spouses or their estates — have also sued Monsanto, making similar claims.
After three days of deliberations this week, the jury at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco awarded Johnson $250 million in punitive damages and about $39 million in compensatory damages.
It won’t change the fact that Johnson’s two sons might lose their dad soon. But it will help them live more comfortably, Johnson’s attorney Timothy Litzenburg said.
Doctors weren't sure Johnson would live long enough to see his trial. Doctors weren't sure Johnson would live long enough to see his trial.
“He’s going to live the rest of that time in extreme comfort,” Litzenburg said.
After the verdict, Monsanto issued a statement saying it stands by the studies that suggest Roundup does not cause 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,” Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said.
But Litzenburg said an appeal would be costly for Monsanto, since the company would have to pay interest on the damages while the case is being appealed. That’s about $25 million a year, he said.

Lesions on much of his body

Johnson, 46, applied Roundup weedkiller 20 to 30 times per year while working as a groundskeeper for a school district near San Francisco, his attorneys said.
He testified that during his work, he had two accidents in which he was soaked with the product. The first accident happened in 2012.
Two years later, in 2014, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
On bad days, Johnson is too crippled to speak. Lesions cover as much as 80% of his body.
Johnson had lesions on most of his body, a doctor said. Johnson had lesions on most of his body, a doctor said.
Litzenburg said the most heartbreaking part of Johnson’s testimony was when the father of two described telling his sons that he had terminal cancer. Johnson’s wife now works two 40-hour-per-week jobs to support the family, Litzenburg said.

How carcinogenic (or not) are Roundup and glyphosate?

The big questions at stake were whether Roundup can cause cancer and, if so, whether Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the product’s cancer risk. The jury sided with Johnson on both.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said the key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Patients: Roundup gave us cancer as EPA official helped company Patients: Roundup gave us cancer as EPA official helped company
“For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” the report states.
But Monsanto has long maintained that Roundup does not cause cancer, and that the IARC report is greatly outnumbered by studies saying glyphosate is safe.
“More than 800 scientific studies, the US EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer,” said Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of strategy.
He highlighted the Agricultural Health Study, which studied the effects of pesticides and glyphosate products on farmers and their spouses from 1993 to 2013.
“Many had already been using Roundup and other formulated products (since) it first came on the market,” Partridge said.
A summary of that study said “no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).”
“We all have sympathy for Mr. Johnson,” Partridge said this week. “It’s natural he’s looking for answers. Glyphosate is not the answer.”
Johnson watches in court as the first cancer patient to take Monsanto to trial over Roundup.Johnson watches in court as the first cancer patient to take Monsanto to trial over Roundup.
But Litzenburg said glyphosate isn’t the big problem — Roundup is. He said the interaction between glyphosate and other ingredients in Roundup cause a “synergistic effect” that makes the product more carcinogenic.
Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord disputed that notion, saying regulatory authorities help ensure Roundup as a whole is safe.
“The safety of each labeled use of a pesticide formulation must be evaluated and approved by regulatory authorities before it is authorized for sale,” she said.
But Litzenburg said Friday’s verdict should be a huge wake-up call to the EPA.
“I think it’s going to make people sit up and make government agencies take a closer look at banning (Roundup),” Litzenburg said.

What did Johnson have to prove?

While it was medically impossible to prove Roundup caused Johnson’s terminal illness, it’s also impossible for Monsanto to prove Roundup did not cause his cancer.
Thousands of other plaintiffs are awaiting trial, claiming Roundup causes cancer. Thousands of other plaintiffs are awaiting trial, claiming Roundup causes cancer.
“Cancer is a very difficult case to try,” Litzenburg said. “You can’t X-ray it or biopsy it and come back with what caused it.”
In this case, Monsanto was not required to prove anything. The burden of proof was on Johnson, the plaintiff.
But that doesn’t mean Johnson’s attorneys had to prove Roundup was the sole cause of his cancer. All they had to prove was whether Roundup was a “substantial contributing factor” to his illness.
“Under California law, that means Mr. Johnson’s cancer would not have occurred but for his exposure to Roundup,” Monsanto spokeswoman Lord said.
She noted that it’s possible his cancer could have developed from something unrelated to Roundup.
The majority of lymphoma cases are idiopathic — meaning the cause is unknown, according to the American Cancer Society.
Litzenburg agreed that most non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases have not been linked to one primary reason in the past. But he said the tide is starting to turn — similar to how it took decades for people to learn that tobacco can be a big contributing factor for lung cancer.
“You can’t take a lung cancer tumor and run a test that proves that tobacco caused that cancer. … You’re seeing the same thing here,” Litzenburg said. “I think we’re in the beginning of that era of this dawning on us as a country — as a public — the connection between these two things.”

Thousands of cases to follow

Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after the jury awarded him $289 million in damages. Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after the jury awarded him $289 million in damages.
Litzenburg said he and other attorneys have more than 4,000 similar cases awaiting trial in various state courts.
He estimates another 400 cases have been filed in federal multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
MDL is similar to a class-action lawsuit because it consolidates pre-trial proceedings for the sake of efficiency. But unlike a class-action lawsuit, each case within an MDL gets its own trial — with its own outcome.
In other words, one MDL plaintiff might get a large settlement, while another plaintiff might get nothing.
No dates have been set for those MDL trials, Litzenburg said.
But one advantage of filing in state court — as Johnson did — instead of through MDL is that state courts sometimes produce outcomes faster. And that can be priceless for terminally ill patients.
Litzenburg said Friday’s verdict is historic, especially since Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world.
“This is a big victory for human health worldwide,” he said.

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RCMP in Burnaby, BC, say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled today

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BURNABY, B.C. — RCMP say they will enforce a court injunction today and remove Trans Mountain pipeline protesters who have been camped outside a Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Police in Burnaby say in a release that large structures at the protest camp, known as Camp Cloud, will be dismantled and the area cleaned up.

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The release says police do not expect what they call violence or disorder while the injunction is being enforced.

Protesters said Monday that several members were prepared to protect a sacred fire that’s been burning around the clock at the site, although the injunction specifically says it should be extinguished due to dry conditions.

The camp has grown since November from a single trailer to include a two-storey wooden structure, a cabin, an outdoor shower, more than a dozen tents and multiple vehicles and trailers.

On Friday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove all structures, shelters and vehicles from the site outside a Kinder Morgan tank farm within 48 hours, but that deadline passed on Sunday.

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Burnaby RCMP arrest anti-pipeline demonstrators at Camp Cloud

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Burnaby RCMP moved in to enforce the injunction to remove the pipeline protesters on Burnaby Mountain on Thursday morning.

About five people have been arrested.

The demonstrators have been camped out on Burnaby Mountain for weeks, despite a court order to take down “Camp Cloud” by Sunday night.

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On Friday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction to remove the pipeline protest camp outside one of Kinder Morgan’s terminals.


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Kinder Morgan demonstrators ignore deadline to take down Camp Cloud

Burnaby RCMP say they have been monitoring the protest camp, located at the intersection of Underhill Avenue and Shellmont Street, adding officers have maintained a dialogue with the residents of the camp in the hopes they would obey the injunction.

“The plan is to stand our ground,” Camp Cloud resident George Manuel Jr. told Global News Monday. “We haven’t changed our tone. We are a peaceful group here.”

Burnaby RCMP say they are not expecting any violence or disorder during the injunction enforcement period but the public may see more equipment from the City of Burnaby and Burnaby RCMP removing the structures at the camp.

Photos of Camp Cloud and a second smaller camp nearby:

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Bell Media gets Viceland

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Bell Media has signed a new long-term agreement that will see it become the exclusive Canadian broadcaster for new programming from Vice Media network Viceland.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.

The companies say the shows will debut on multiple Bell Media platforms, including CraveTV, in the fall.

They say new Vice shows will exclusively air on television on Bell Media channels, while it has also acquired the rights to more than 650 hours of Vice library programming.

Bell Media and Vice will also explore co-production opportunities.

The deal follows the end of a deal between Rogers Media Inc. and Vice earlier this year.

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