A trial will begin on July 9 in which a former groundskeeper for schools in Benicia, Calif. accuses Monsanto of exposing him to chemicals that caused cancer.

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Trial Set To Begin Of Bay Area Groundskeeper Accusing Monsanto Of Causing Cancer

Scott Lettieri
July 09, 2018 - 9:12 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) - A trial in San Francisco is set to open Monday that alleges agribusiness giant Monsanto caused the terminal cancer of a former Bay Area school caretaker who regularly used the company's weed-killer Roundup. 

The company faces similar lawsuits in roughly 300 cases, but the complaint brought by Dewayne "Lee" Johnson is the first to open in court. 

Johnson, 46, argues that he's dying from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma brought on by his exposure to glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup. The World Health Organization has said glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Johnson has said he sprayed the chemicals on Benicia school grounds up to 30 times a year for more than a decade. 

His legal team promised to present evidence showing Monsanto knew about the dangers of Roundup and Ranger Pro, another herbicide the company manufactured. 

"This is the first time that the world is going to see documents showing that Monsanto has known that Roundup and Ranger Pro can cause cancer and specifically can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," said attorney Brent Wisner.to CBS News. "If we win this, Monsanto is in trouble."

Monsanto officials has denied that their customers developed cancer from using their products. 

Legal experts said that even though the WHO issued its warning about glyphosate, it will be an uphill battle for Johnson to win this case. 

"The plaintiffs have to show it is by a preponderance of evidence it is more likely than not that Roundup caused this plaintiff this cancer," said University of California, Hastings law professor David Levine. "That may be a heavy lift."