Jury selection set to begin in Monsanto cancer trial

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Jury selection is about to begin in a case involving a Vallejo man dying of cancer and agricultural chemical giant Monsanto.

Lee Johnson's attorneys claim the company's popular herbicide, Roundup, causes cancer, and their client contracted the disease after working with the chemical for years.

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Monsanto denies the claim.

A judge granted attorneys, for both the plaintiff and the defendant, time to address the jury pool about what to expect if chosen to be a juror.

"We are here because Mr. Johnson is dying. And the facts and the evidence in this case that Monsanto, instead of warning, they hid critical information from the EPA and consumers. They ignored their own experts and their own scientists. They refused to conduct testing on the formulated products that are actually sold to consumers on the market. And they manipulated scientific data"

"So at the conclusion of the trial, you're going to hear from the judge an instruction. And that instruction will be that it's the plaintiff's burden of proof in this case to prove his claims, which means logistically he gets to put on his case first. So we are going to ask you to keep an open mind and continue to hear all of the evidence and allow us to present our whole story so you can reach a fair and just decision."

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Johnson worked as the integrative pest manager for Benicia School District.

His case is the first of thousands to go to trial.

Johnson's attorney says while terminally ill, he is expected to testify.
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