$275 million verdict for toxic exhibits at Washington school

MONROE, Wash. (AP) — A King County jury has awarded $275 million to ten students and parents who said they suffered severe neurological damage from exposure to chemicals at a school northeast of Seattle. .

The lawsuit against Bayer Pharmaceuticals is the fourth to result in a multimillion-dollar verdict, the Seattle Times reported. The company owns chemical giant Monsanto, the maker of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

The first three lawsuits resulted in jury verdicts of $268 million distributed to 14 plaintiffs. A trial is ongoing and 16 others are awaiting trial.

More than 200 students, parents and teachers at Sky Valley Education Center, an alternative school in Snohomish County, sued Monsanto for environmental contamination.

They say the Monroe School District knew PCBs had been found on campus, but, despite cleanup efforts, toxins were still found in 2019.

Exposure to PCBs has resulted in health effects including neurological problems, skin damage, cancers, hormonal diseases and other illnesses, the plaintiffs said.

PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979, but are still present in some structures, including Sky Valley lighting ballasts, prior to replacement.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals said in a statement that it disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal, as it has with previous verdicts.

Bayer also claims failures from the Monroe School District.

In early 2022, the school district agreed to pay $34 million as part of a settlement with parents and students exposed to PCBs. The district did not accept responsibility for unsafe conditions on campus and said it acted appropriately to remove toxic substances and notify parents.

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