stock image showing the chemical structure of PCBs
Seattle, WA - A Washington state court jury will hear opening statements Monday in the latest in a series of trials over claims that long-lasting chemicals manufactured by Bayer-owned Monsanto caused neurological injuries to students and teachers at a local school.
Monday marks the fifth 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.
A notable difference in this latest trial will be the addition of prominent attorneys Nick and Courtney Rowley of the law firm Trial Lawyers For Justice at the plaintiff counsel table. Nick Rowley is co-author of the popular trial practice guidebook Trial By Human, and Courtney Rowley is the co-author of Trial By Woman, a book and organization dedicated to advancing women in the legal profession. The Rowleys join co-counsel Rick Friedman of Friedman Rubin, who represented plaintiffs in three of the previous Sky Valley PCB trials to date.
The full proceedings will be webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Dozens of students, faculty and parents have lawsuits pending against Monsanto, the only domestic manufacturer of PCB chemicals, claiming that PCBs in outdated light fixtures and building caulk in the Sky Valley facility caused serious neurological injuries.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trials and in court filings, the company blamed the Monroe School District for supposedly failing to replace the outdated light fixtures at the school.
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 recent trial ended in a mistrial in July when the deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict. All four trials were recorded gavel-to-gavel by CVN and are included among hundreds of other trials in CVN's one-of-a-kind online trial video archive.
Monday’s trial will follow the same hybrid format used in previous Sky Valley PCB trials, where attorneys deliver opening and closing statements to jurors in-person, while the witness testimony in the trial takes place over the Zoom platform.
CVN’s gavel-to-gavel coverage will include live and on-demand video of both the in-person and virtual portions of the trial.
The case is captioned Allison, et al. v. Monsanto Company, case number 18-2-26074-4 in King County Superior Court, Washington.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org