A group of seven former students and parent volunteers are reportedly set to receive a payout of nearly $1 billion after they were reportedly exposed to and sickened by toxic chemicals leaking from light fixtures.
Reuters reported Dec. 18 that a Washington state jury found that Monsanto, a chemical firm owned by Bayer, was “liable” for selling a product that contained unsafe chemicals to the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe.
The verdict also states that the company failed to issue the appropriate warnings about the chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The case resulted in a $857 million verdict.
While Monsanto intends to appeal the decision, arguing that the school failed to upgrade its light fixtures, it had already been ordered to pay millions in other verdicts related to PCBs at the center.
Some of the other suits against the company include claims of brain damage, as reported by the Seattle Times.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, PCBs are “dangerous contaminants” that have been linked to thyroid and reproductive issues, as well as an increased risk of diabetes.
The chemicals have been banned in the United States since 1979 because of the risk of cancer, as noted by Reuters, but prior to that, they were used in a range of everyday equipment, from electrical fixtures to paint to floor finishes.
And similar to microplastics or weedkillers, PCBs can end up contaminating the soil and water, with the Environmental Protection Agency noting the PCBs can become even more toxic if they come in contact with fish or other animals because of a composition change.
While the verdict was reportedly an important step toward holding the corporation accountable, Henry Jones, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, pointed out why he felt the decision to award a significant payout was just.
“No one who heard this evidence would ever change places with any of these people in exchange for all the money the jury awarded,” Jones told the Daily Herald in Everett.
Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.