Monsanto Leverages Washington Court Victory to Challenge $1.1B in PCB Verdicts

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Monsanto is moving to capitalize on a Washington state appellate victory it claims casts doubt on more than $1.1 billion in PCB poisoning verdicts, while plaintiffs are staking out positions to defend — and even build on — their blockbuster wins.

Attorneys for Monsanto Co. say the Washington Court of Appeals’ May 1 ruling, reversing the $185 million verdict in favor of teachers who worked at the Sky Valley Education Center, is a massive blow to the entire group of school staff members, former students and parents who claim they developed health problems due to polychlorinated biphenyls emitted by light fixtures at the public school site roughly 35 miles northeast of Seattle.

Seeking to interrupt a steady drumbeat of trial losses, the chemical giant argues that the Court of Appeals identified errors in the lower court’s handling of Erickson v. Pharmacia LLC that also apply to plaintiffs’ seven subsequent victories. The total damages at one point topped $1.7 billion, before one verdict was reduced by a judge in April and the plaintiffs’ Erickson win was overturned last month.