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White City couple seek $39 million from Monsanto

Couple say man’s cancer was caused by using Roundup since 1990s

A White City couple are suing Monsanto for $39 million in Jackson County Circuit Court over a man’s cancer, which they say was caused by his prolonged use of the herbicide Roundup.

A jury trial is underway in Medford, and the case is expected to continue for most of this month.

Larry and Gayle Johnson claim that Larry Johnson developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from using Roundup for many years. The herbicide contains glyphosate, which has been linked to this form of cancer, according to the complaint filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The case, scheduled to take about five weeks, is being presided over by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Charles Kochlacs.

Eagle Point Hardware was listed as a defendant in the suit when it was filed in March last year, but Kochlacs dismissed the store from the proceeding last month.

The couple seek compensation for Larry Johnson’s medical bills, which they said had reached about $568,000 by the time the complaint was filed. They estimated that he will require about $470,000 worth of additional care.

In addition, Larry Johnson seeks up to $35 million for “pain and suffering and interference with normal and usual activities from the date of injury to the present, and from the present into the future.”

Gayle Johnson seeks up to $3 million for “loss of consortium and/or society.”

The Johnsons also asked for pre- and post-judgment interest, court and litigation costs and any other relief the court “may deem just and proper.”

The Johnsons’ complaint cites a variety of findings about Roundup and glyphosate. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer determined in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans,” according to their filings.

Cancers “most associated with glyphosate exposure are non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other haematopoietic cancers, including lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma and multiple myeloma,” the complaint noted.

In documents filed with the court on behalf of Monsanto, the company says Roundup and glyphosate “create no unreasonable risk to human health ... when used in accordance with the label.”

Larry Johnson testified that he began using the herbicide monthly during spring and summer during the 1990s to kill weeds in the yard of the couple’s previous home in Washington County. He continued to use the product when the couple moved to White City, they said.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September 2019 at Providence Medford Medical Center, according to the complaint filed in 2021 seeking a jury trial.

“He then proceeded to chemotherapy treatment and suffered the effects attendant thereto as a direct and proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of Roundup and defendants’ wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing and sale of Roundup,” the complaint alleged.

Courtroom View Network and two local television stations, KTVL and KOBI, sought permission to record the trial proceedings with audio or video equipment. The requests were denied by Kochlacs, according to the court’s administration office.

The jury was scheduled to return to court Thursday after Kochlacs and the lawyers met Wednesday to discuss matters related to the case.

Reach reporter Terri Harber at tharber@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.