Monsanto faces in-person school PCB chemical contamination lawsuit, CVN to be webcast
CVN screenshot of defense attorney Anthony Upshaw delivering his final statement on behalf of Monsanto in a previously taped PCB lawsuit
Seattle, WA – Monsanto, owned by Bayer, faces opening statements next Wednesday in a Washington state court in a lawsuit alleging long-lasting carcinogenic chemicals in a school building put endanger the health of many teachers and students, and the procedure will be Hammer to Hammer webcast by Courtroom View Network.
The lawsuit, filed by three former Sky Valley school teachers and one of their spouses, alleges the Monroe School District chose to continue operating the deteriorating facility despite knowing as early as 2007 that ‘she was severely contaminated with synthetic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
Monsanto, the school district and the health district of Snohomish have been charged with withholding information from the public about the health risks associated with exposure to PCBs, although Monsanto is the only accused at the trial.
Before being banned in the 1970s, PCBs were used for many industrial purposes, from fire insulation to food packaging. Agrochemical giant Monsanto was the only US manufacturer of PCBs, which the Environmental Protection Agency now considers dangerous toxic carcinogens.
According to the lawsuit, students and teachers at the school suffered from a variety of health issues ranging from eye and throat irritation to fatal cancer. Two teachers have contracted cancer since 2011, the complaint says, and two students have died of the disease. Other teachers and students are said to have suffered from many other health problems, including headaches, tremors, depression and gastrointestinal problems.
“The frequency and severity of symptoms appeared to be positively correlated with an individual’s vulnerability and time spent in school buildings,” the complaint states. “Symptoms and illnesses got worse over time for these people. “
Monsanto denies the allegations, saying the level of exposure to PCBs at the school was low and that the complainants’ alleged injuries could be the result of other safety issues at the 70-year-old facility, such as mold.
The trial will be Hammer to Hammer webcast by Courtroom View Network from the start of the opening statements. The case is expected to come under close scrutiny as one of the largest in-person toxic tort lawsuits to have taken place since the National Cover-19 court was closed in March.
The trial will take place in a large convention center normally used for events such as auctions and trade shows to allow for the separation of jurors and the phalanx of lawyers representing the parties. The jury selection takes place virtually on the Zoom platform.
In essence, the trial will be similar to two cases webcast and registered by CVN in California in 2016 involving exposure to chemicals containing PCBs. The juries delivered their verdicts on the defense for Monsanto in both cases, which are available for hammer-to-hammer viewing by CVN subscribers as part of CVN’s test video archive.
In the present case, the plaintiffs accuse Monsanto of having years of extensive knowledge of the cancer risks associated with PCBs, but of withholding that information to protect profits.
“Monsanto has benefited for decades from the production and promotion of PCBs, and Monsanto continues to have a significant financial interest in denying the environmental and health hazards associated with toxic contamination caused by Monsanto’s PCBs.” , indicates the complaint.
A Monsanto spokesperson disputed the claims, noting that Monsanto ceased production of chemicals containing PCBs decades ago and that the compounds were used by many other companies.
“There is no legal basis that requires a manufacturer of a component to warn customers of their customers’ finished products, which is the extreme legal theory behind this case,” the company said.
The applicants are represented by Friedman Rubin PLLP.
Bayer / Monsanto is represented by Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, Capes Sokol and White & Williams LLP.
The case is captioned Kerry L. Erickson, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., Case number 18-2-11915-4 in the Washington State Superior Court in King County.
Email David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org