PWRFL obtains largest jury verdict in the State of Washington. 

PWRFL attorneys Mike Wampold and Felix Luna, along with TL4J attorneys Theresa Hatch and Keith Bruno and Adele Daniels at Keller Rohrback secured an $857,000,000 verdict on behalf of their clients against Pharmacia LLC, formerly known as Monsanto Chemical Company.  

PWRFL’s clients were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a toxic substance produced by Monsanto for decades, while attending school at Sky Valley Education Center and Monroe Middle School in Monroe, WA. The jury found that PCBs are a defective product and that Monsanto failed to adequately warn about the hazards of PCBs. This marks PWRFL’s second case on behalf of SVEC families against Monsanto, and the largest jury verdict in Washington State history.

Between 1935 and 1977, Monsanto Chemical Company was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. From very early on in production Monsanto understood that PCBs were systemically toxic to humans and did not dissipate in the environment. Despite this, Monsanto marketed them for general use in many products, including fluorescent light ballasts, caulking, and paint.

In the pursuit of profit over public welfare, Monsanto produced nearly three billion pounds of PCBs over 40+ years. The U.S. government finally banned the production of PCBs with the passage of Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.In reality, manufacturing did not cease until 1977 and, thanks to lobbying by Monsanto, PCBs were allowed to remain in consumer goods on the market, including fluorescent light ballasts in schools and public buildings across the county. Known internally at Monsanto as the “sleeper issue”, today up to 14 million schoolchildren in roughly 20,000 U.S. schools may be exposed to PCBs every day. One of these schools was the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, Washington, housed in the old Monroe Middle School.

PWRFL’s clients attended the Sky Valley Education Center from 2011 to 2016, with one client attending Monroe Middle School from 2006-2009. Over the course of their attendance, our clients, as well as other families experienced an exponential increase in health issues. It wasn’t until families began to connect the dots and realized they were all experiencing similar issues that they began to look to the school for answers. Parents soon discovered that PCB-containing light ballasts were still in use by the school.  These ballasts had begun to fail, smoke and burst, emitting PCBs into the classrooms.

Monsanto had known about this danger to school children for decades and refused to adequately warn or provide any technical or other assistance to the public, including schools, regarding PCB-remediation. A Washington State jury agreed that Monsanto was responsible for the harms caused to PWRFL’s claims by its PCBS and concluded that Monsanto should also pay punitive damages for its decades of reprehensible conduct.  Specifically, the jury awarded $73 Million in compensatory and $784 Million in punitive damages for a total of $857,000,000.

Read more about the case here and here.