LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Attorneys at Dallas-based Allen Stewart, P.C. have announced that a Los Angeles district court judge rejected Monsanto’s claim that the PCB producer owed no duty to individuals who developed non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from exposure to toxic PCBs. The court found that there was enough evidence to take Monsanto to trial.
“Although scientific evidence of PCBs’ toxicity was rapidly growing, Monsanto continued to defend its PCB products, claiming there was no risk of contamination or harm when the company knew the opposite was true”
International agriculture and biotechnology corporation Monsanto Co. has produced everything from saccharin, aspirin and rubber to DDT, Agent Orange, and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Monsanto produced PCBs under the name Aroclors beginning in 1930. The EPA banned use of the chemicals in 1979.
“Although scientific evidence of PCBs’ toxicity was rapidly growing, Monsanto continued to defend its PCB products, claiming there was no risk of contamination or harm when the company knew the opposite was true,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Allen Stewart. Monsanto continued producing PCBs far into the 1970s.
Certain health risks of PCBs were almost immediately apparent as workers making Aroclors suffered severe skin damage. Monsanto’s own internal memos include communications about PCBs and skin and liver damage. Studies done in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s showed again and again that PCBs were extremely toxic to several animal species, that they caused birth defects in animals, and that they were likely to cause cancer as well. According to court documents, Monsanto’s response was to deny and minimize concerns about health hazards of PCBs and the risk of environmental contamination.
In court documents, Monsanto has claimed that it released only a tenth of a percent of all the PCBs released into the environment. However, enormous quantities of PCBs manufactured and sold by Monsanto were released into the environment, and the use of PCBs in products such as paint, food wrap, caulk, inks, and pesticides is responsible for a large amount of the PCB contamination in the environment. Even though Monsanto did not release all of the PCBs into the environment itself, it passed those chemicals on to thousands of customers when it was foreseeable that the chemicals would become a widespread, and extremely dangerous, environmental contaminant. According to court documents, Monsanto was well aware that the unique characteristics of PCBs would make them resistant to breaking down in the environment, and the company ignored a series of warning signs that PCBs were building up everywhere in the environment.
In denying Monsanto’s motion for summary judgment, the court stated that a jury could find that the company owed a duty to the plaintiffs and that it was foreseeable that the plaintiffs would be exposed to PCBs it produced.
“We showed the court that Monsanto was the only one who could have stopped the PCB exposure that caused the plaintiffs’ cancers,” said Steve Baughman Jensen of Allen Stewart, P.C., “because only Monsanto had control over letting these chemicals out into the community—knowing that they would eventually be released and expose communities to these carcinogens.”
The trial against Monsanto is scheduled to begin on March 6, 2013. In addition to the Allen Stewart, P.C. law firm, other law firms representing the Plaintiffs include both Williams, Kherkher, LLP in Houston, Texas, and Waters & Kraus, LLP, which has offices in both Dallas and Los Angeles.