Three Washington state teachers who sued the chemical company Monsanto for exposure to materials in fluorescent lamps were awarded $ 185 million.
The law firm that represented the teachers, Friedman Rubin, said a jury returned the verdict Tuesday in King County Superior Court. The teachers, who worked at the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, Wash., Said they suffered brain damage from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the school’s fluorescent lighting.
“This is a big step to hold Monsanto accountable,” teachers’ attorney Rick Friedman said in a statement.
Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, said the company disagreed with the verdict and could appeal.
“The uncontested evidence in this case does not support the findings that the complainants were exposed to unsafe levels of PCBs at the Sky Valley Education Center (SVEC) or that any exposure could have caused their alleged injuries,” said Bayer spokesperson Susan Skiles Lukes. , said in a statement.
The company said the lightweight ballasts that were the subject of the lawsuit were obsolete.
“These are historic claims that relate to products Monsanto hasn’t produced for over 40 years,” Lukes said.
It was the first of 22 trials involving teachers, parents and students who spent time at the Sky Valley Education Center.
An Associated Press investigation in 2019 found that millions of fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs likely remained in schools and daycares across the United States four decades after the chemicals ban, fearing they could cause cancer and other diseases.
Many older buildings also have caulk, ceiling tiles, floor adhesives, and PCB-based paint, which have sometimes been found at levels far above those permitted by law.
PCBs are mixtures of compounds manufactured by Monsanto Co and widely used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment until they were banned in 1979.