Jury Deliberating in Latest Trial over Contamination by Monsanto's 'Forever Chemicals' at Washington State School

Posted by David Siegel on Oct 5, 2022 3:12:18 PM

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CVN screenshot of plaintiffs' attorney Rick Friedman delivering his closing argument

Seattle, WA - A Washington State court jury began deliberations Tuesday in the fifth consecutive trial over allegations that long-lasting toxic chemicals manufactured by Bayer-owned agrochemical giant Monsanto in a local school caused serious neurological injuries to students and teachers.

Attorneys for students and teachers at the Sky Valley Educational Center and Monsanto delivered their closing arguments on Tuesday in a Seattle courtroom as part of a lengthy trial that began in early August. The trial utilized the same hybrid format as previous trials involving contaminating at the aging Sky Valley facility, with opening and closing arguments taking place in-person and all witness testimony occurring virtually over Zoom.

The plaintiffs allege that exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, caused a range of neurological injuries to students and teachers at the school, and that some students could face a lifetime of cognitive deficits as a result of the damage they allegedly suffered.

PCBs, also referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their extreme durability, were used for a variety of industrial purposes before being banned in the United States in the 1970’s. The trial specifically dealt with PCBs allegedly present in in outdated light fixtures and building caulk used throughout the Sky Valley facility.

Monsanto’s attorneys argued that while PCBs were present at school, they were never found in sufficient numbers to cause the injuries the plaintiffs allegedly sustained. At previous trials and in court filings, the company blamed the Monroe School District where the Sky Valley facility is located for supposedly failing to replace the outdated light fixtures 

The full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, including all witness testimony, along with all the previous Sky Valley PCB trials to date.

Three previous juries returned plaintiff verdicts at earlier Sky Valley PCB trials in the amounts of $62 million, $185 million, and $21 million. The most recently concluded trial ended in a mistrial in July when the deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict.

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CVN screenshot of defense attorney Kristen Rodriguez delivering her closing argument

Numerous related lawsuits remain pending, and another trial involving a new group of plaintiffs is scheduled to begin on October 17.

The plaintiffs in the current case are represented by Richard Friedman of Friedman | Rubin PLLP, along with Nicholas and Courtney Rowley of Trial Lawyers for Justice. Friedman delivered Tuesday’s closing arguments on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Kristen Rodriguez of Dentons delivered closing arguments on behalf of Monsanto.

The case is captioned Allison, et al. v. Monsanto Company, case number 18-2-26074-4 in King County Superior Court, Washington.

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Topics: Products Liability, chemical