By Conor White
The small-town lawyer who triumphed over agrochemical giant Monsanto for $289 million said he won his case by telling ordinary Americans the truth.
"Monsanto's been able to infiltrate and influence every other sector of government and academia and science," the lawyer, Timothy Litzenburg, said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar. "But we get a fresh set of 12 ordinary Americans when we go to a jury trial, we tell our story, they tell their story, and we have tremendous faith in the jury system to decide the right thing ー and they did in this case."
A California jury decided that Monsanto must pay $289 million to a former school groundskeeper because the company's Roundup weedkiller made him terminally ill. Dewayne Lee Johnson, the plaintiff, used Monsanto's products for more than two years, and testified he had multiple accidents that left him soaked in the ingredients. He has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
Litzenburg, a lawyer at The Miller Firm, argued the ingredient, glyphosate, wasn't the main issue. Rather, he said it's the interaction between glyphosate and other chemicals in Roundup that presents the real harm. The jury agreed in what is already considered a landmark ruling.
His law firm has "thousands" of similar cases lined up, Litzenburg said, and he and his colleagues are prepared to face Monsanto in more trials.
Monsanto has said it will appeal the decision, which it contends was based on "junk science."
Litzenburg said that's part of Monsanto's strategy.
"Monsanto uses their code words 'political' and 'science-based' to describe decisions of agencies," he said. "If it's one they like they call it 'science-based', if it's one they don't like, they call it 'political.'"
Litzenburg was confident the verdict ー and the penalty, meant to hurt Monsanto ー would stand.
"We're talking about the kind of money that the Monsanto CEO makes," Litzenburg said. "I think it's going to be a hard argument to say that Lee Johnson's life is worth less than that."
For full interview, click here.