Monsanto Faces 4th Trial Over Injuries Supposedly Caused By PCB 'Forever Chemicals' In WA School

Posted by David Siegel on May 10, 2022 3:25:12 PM

Soley openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiffs attorney Darrell Cochran delivering his opening statement

Seattle, WA - A Washington State court jury heard opening statements Monday in a lawsuit alleging that toxic chemicals manufactured by Bayer-owned agrochemical giant Monsanto caused a range of neurological injuries in a local school, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Monday’s opening statements kicked off the fourth consecutive trial in King County Superior Court stemming from contamination at the Sky Valley Educational Center in the Monroe School District with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. PCBs, sometimes referred to as "forever chemicals" due to their durability, were used for a variety of industrial purposes before being banned in the 1970’s.

Dozens of students, faculty and parents sued Monsanto, the only domestic manufacturer of PCB chemicals, claiming that PCBs in outdated light fixtures and building caulk in the Sky Valley facility caused serious neurological injuries. The lawsuits accuse Monsanto of knowing that PCBs posed a serious health risk but withholding that information from the general public.

Monsanto maintains that while PCBs were present at the Sky Valley facility, 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trials and in court filings, the company blamed the Monroe School District for supposedly failing to replace the outdated light fixtures at the school.

Attorney Darrell Cochran of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala delivered the opening statement on behalf of the plaintiffs, while Ken Reilly of Shook Hardy & Bacon delivered Monsanto’s opening statement.

The trial takes place concurrently with another trial involving PCB exposure at the Sky Valley facility. That trial began in mid-February, and both trials featured a hybrid format with in-person opening and closing arguments and witness testimony held via Zoom.

CVN is webcasting and recording both trials gavel-to-gavel, having previously covered two similar trials in Seattle in 2021. Those two trials ended in plaintiffs’ verdicts totaling $62 million and $185 million.

With numerous cases related to the Sky Valley facility still pending, Monsanto is likely keen to notch a defense win following adverse verdicts in the previous two cases, however the company has had success in other jurisdictions defending cases involving alleged PCB exposure.

In 2016 Monsanto secured back-to-back trial victories in California state court in PCB-related lawsuits. Both of those trials were similarly covered by CVN.

Both California trials and the two previous trials in Seattle are among the hundreds of civil trials available to subscribers in CVN's one-of-a-kind civil trial video archive. 

Topics: Products Liability, Washington, chemical