A jury in Washington state on Monday found that levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at the school weren’t “reasonably safe” and awarded $73 million in compensatory damages and $784 million in punitive damages to two parents who volunteered at Sky Valley Education Center along with five former students, according to court filings.
The decision marks the eighth time Washington state juries have found that students, teachers and parents who spent time in the facility were harmed by exposure to PCBs used in fluorescent light fixtures. Jurors have
“Our clients would happily trade all the money they were awarded if they could get their health back,” Mike Wampold, one of the lawyers who represented the students and parents, said in an interview.
Bayer will appeal the verdict and pursue post-trial motions to reduce the damages awarded, it said by email. The company insists that the plaintiffs were not exposed to unsafe levels of PCBs. The stock was little changed in Frankfurt trading.
Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, has been dealing with a host of
Besides the $16 billion set aside to resolve Roundup cases, the German conglomerate faces mounting liabilities tied to PCBs, frequently found in electrical equipment. The compounds were banned in the US in 1979 after researchers found they posed a cancer threat.
Bayer’s top-end exposure in PCB contamination claims from US states and individuals could exceed $2.5 billion, according to
In the most recent Washington state case, a parent at Sky Valley school alleged PCB exposure caused her brain damage, while others in the case blamed the chemicals for neurological disorders and illnesses such as lupus, according to court records.
In the trial, Angela Bard, a volunteer at the school which her daughter Jessica attended, won a total of $119 million for her injuries. Jessica was awarded $127 million in damages.
Jurors found that Monsanto and Pharmacia, a related company, supplied PCB-laced products used in the school’s lighting system and failed to provide adequate warnings about the chemicals’ health risks, according to court filings.
The verdict was reported earlier by the New York Times.
Last month, a separate jury awarded workers at the Sky Valley facility $165 million in damages over their claims that the PCBs caused their cancers and brain injuries. The plaintiffs included six teachers and a custodian.
The most recent case is Bard v. Pharmacia, 21-2-14305, Washington State Superior Court for King County (Seattle).
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