Monsanto Faces Third Trial over PCB Contamination in Washington State School, CVN Webcasting Gavel-to-Gavel

Posted by David Siegel on Feb 17, 2022 9:07:34 AM


CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Rick Friedman delivering his opening statement

Seattle, WA - A Washington State court jury heard opening statements Tuesday in the third trial involving allegations that toxic chemicals manufactured by Bayer-owned agrochemical giant Monsanto caused serious injuries to students and staff at a local school, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Hundreds of students, parents and faculty sued Monsanto after alleged exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at the Sky Valley Educational Center. The lawsuits claim the chemicals in the school’s building caulk and outdated light fixtures caused a variety of neurological injuries, and that Monsanto, the only manufacturer of PCBs before the chemicals fell out of use decades ago, knew the compounds posed a serious health risk but withheld that information from the public for years.

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trials and in court filings, the company blamed the Monroe School District for supposedly failing to replace the outdated light fixtures at the school.

The two previous trials to date, also recorded by CVN, ended in verdicts totaling $62 million and $185 million.


The current trial mirrors the format of the previous trial involving the Sky Valley facility, where jurors heard opening statements in person in a King County courtroom, but the witness testimony took place virtually over Zoom.

The trial before that played out in a sprawling convention center temporarily repurposed for use as a courtroom in 2021 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both parties are represented by the same firms as in the previous two trials, making this third trial essentially a rematch between attorneys from the Seattle-based firm Friedman Rubin, representing the plaintiffs and defense stalwart Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, a national firm based in Missouri where Monsanto previously had its headquarters. 

With hundreds of plaintiffs’ cases related to the Sky Valley facility 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. 

The current Seattle case is captioned Beutler, et al. v. Monsanto, case number 21-2-14302-1 SEA, in King County Superior Court before Judge Kristen Richardson.

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Topics: Products Liability, Washington, chemical