Ongoing PCB Lawsuits

Monsanto Lawsuits and Litigation

Numerous lawsuits are now pending against Bayer for Monsanto’s manufacture and distribution of PCBs. These can be grouped into three general categories:

  • Oregon, Vermont, and other municipalities are suing Bayer, alleging Monsanto PCBs contaminated the municipality’s water and soil.

  • Some school districts claim that their students and staff were and continue to be exposed to PCB materials used in the schools’ construction.

  • Individuals who developed cancer or other health complications are suing to recover their medical expenses and other compensation.

In each case, the plaintiffs are bringing their suits under the product liability law.

Claims of Plaintiffs in Monsanto Litigation

By manufacturing a product and then offering it for sale to others, a company warrants to the purchaser that its product is safe for its intended uses. If the product has dangerous properties that aren’t immediately apparent, the manufacturer must disclose them to the user or consumer.

The product’s manufacturer can’t bury its head in the sand when it comes to its product’s toxicity. The law imposes a duty on manufacturers to conduct reasonable testing and evaluation of their products before selling them so any hidden or unanticipated dangers can be discovered and disclosed.

The plaintiffs who have brought suit against Bayer/Monsanto allege that the company violated these legal duties.

By creating a dangerous and toxic product, Monsanto had the legal obligation to warn others about the harmful effects of PCB exposure. Plaintiffs allege that it took Monsanto decades to publicly acknowledge the harmful effects of PCBs on humans and the environment, allowing generations to be exposed to these harsh chemical compounds.

How the Company Is Responding to Bayer-Monsanto Lawsuits

Bayer Global, the parent company of Monsanto, has announced that it intends to contest many of the PCB lawsuits being brought against it.

Spokespersons have said that the company will only settle cases where reasonable offers are made. This indicates that Bayer intends not to settle cases unless the risk of loss at trial and its potential financial exposure exceed the amount sought in a settlement.

Bayer has announced that it intends to raise several defenses, including the following:

Contributory Negligence

In the case of lawsuits brought by school districts, Bayer claims that school districts may be partly responsible for any PCB exposure tied to building materials. Bayer notes that a number of advisories were issued throughout the years telling schools about how best to address PCB-containing materials that were degrading and no longer useful.

Lack of Causation

Regarding claims made by individuals who allege that PCB has caused cancer or other health effects, Bayer intends to downplay any evidence of causation.

The company hopes to avoid liability for any of the plaintiff’s medical or other costs if it can’t be shown with some degree of certainty that the plaintiff’s health situation was caused primarily by PCB exposure.


Finally, in cases the company does settle or lose at trial, it intends to enforce indemnification agreements to recover its costs.

As the dangers of PCBs became known, Monsanto continued to sell its PCB products for a time but made purchasers sign indemnification agreements. As part of these agreements, the purchasers agreed to hold Monsanto/Bayer harmless and indemnify the company in the event of later litigation.

No Control Over Third-Party Use

First, the company claims that once it sold its PCB products to other manufacturers, it had no legal obligation or control over the use to which that other manufacturer put the PCB.

Some of the environmental contamination highlighted in certain lawsuits wasn’t caused by Monsanto directly but by other companies that used Monsanto’s products. Bayer thus claims that it and Monsanto cannot be held responsible for the actions of these third parties.

Ongoing Bayer/Monsanto PCB Lawsuits & Investigations

Plaintiffs contend that Monsanto failed to disclose PCB dangers, violating the duty to conduct reasonable testing. Lawsuits demand accountability for the harmful effects of PCB exposure, affecting generations.

The lawsuits against Bayer are categorized into three groups:

  • Municipalities alleging water and soil contamination.

  • School districts claiming ongoing exposure to PCB materials.

  • Individuals seeking compensation for health complications, including cancer.

McEldrew Purtell will continue to closely monitor pending lawsuits against Bayer in all jurisdictions.

The following is a list of recent and relevant Bayer PCB lawsuits & investigations:

Sanctions on Malibu Activist

Malibu activists, including America Unites for Kids, face sanctions in their PCB cleanup lawsuit over unauthorized chemical sampling. The court prohibited the use of obtained samples as evidence and ordered payment for damages, legal fees, and compensation proposals.

Bayer/Monsanto Trial in Washington State

Bayer's Monsanto faces trial in Washington State over PCB contamination, with allegations of injuries from toxic exposure. A similar trial resulted in a $185 million verdict, and Bayer argues that the PCB levels were insufficient to cause claimed injuries.

Connecticut PCB Testing Challenges

 Some Connecticut schools may not undergo PCB testing due to high remediation costs, as PCBs were commonly used in building materials from 1950-1979. The slow decomposition and potential toxicity of PCBs require testing, according to the EPA.

Grant Parish School Board Lawsuit

Louisiana's Grant Parish School Board sued Monsanto, Solutia, and Pharmacia in 2015, alleging hazardous indoor conditions due to released PCBs. The defendants were found liable for the claims, with Pharmacia merging with Monsanto in 2000.

PCBs at Mohansic Elementary School

PCBs were found in the soil at Mohansic Elementary School in New York, originating from window caulking, leading to soil removal and transport. PCBs, banned in 1979, pose risks to human and environmental health.

Princeton Lawsuits Against Monsanto

Princeton filed lawsuits against Monsanto, Solutia, and Pharmacia related to PCB contamination, with New Jersey DEP also suing Monsanto for knowingly discharging PCBs. Baltimore City settled a federal class action against Monsanto and Solutia for $537.5 million in 2019.

Chicago's PCB Contamination Lawsuit

Chicago filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB contamination, with the city emitting over 400 pounds of toxic PCBs annually due to long-banned chemicals in paint. PCBs were found in various industrial and household applications.

Clark Elementary School PCB Contamination

Clark Elementary School in Hartford faced PCB contamination, estimating a $4 million cleanup cost. Airborne PCBs at high concentrations prompted the school building committee to solicit bids for specialized PCB removal.

EAW PCB Testing Victory

EAW secured PCB testing rights in Worcester schools after winning against the Worcester School Committee due to failed tests. The Committee responds proactively with planned air testing. EAW operates on weekdays as a resource for PCB concerns, emphasizing the importance of addressing PCB issues in schools.

Missouri Cases

In Missouri, Monsanto's denial of duty to cancer victims is rejected, with juries awarding compensation, highlighting health impacts from Roundup weedkiller.

Mohansic Elementary Case

Mohansic Elementary School in New York addresses PCB contamination, tackling additional environmental issues during remediation.

SF Bay Area Regulations

San Francisco Bay Area mandates PCB sampling in buildings from 1950 to 1980, enhancing environmental safety measures.

Hartford vs. Monsanto Lawsuit

Hartford sued Monsanto in 2015 for PCB removal at Clark Elementary School, seeking payment for remediation and relocation costs. The lawsuit aimed to hold Monsanto accountable for misleading the public about the harmful effects of its products, with other districts in Louisiana and Massachusetts also suing Monsanto.

Massachusetts School Concerns

Massachusetts school districts face transparency concerns as air sampling reports are withheld from parents, raising regulatory questions about access to student records.

TSCA Regulations

PCBs, regulated under the Toxic Substance Control Act, impact property values and pose health risks, leading to liability in building maintenance and renovations.

University of Iowa's PCB Survey in Schools

The University of Iowa's airborne PCB survey in schools revealed the presence of these chemicals in older buildings. Exposure rates were similar in rural and urban areas, and the study recommends reducing airborne PCBs through caulking replacement and fixture updates. Previous actions, like closing a Massachusetts school in 2014, highlight the urgent need for a safe school environment.

Educational Association of Worcester (EAW) PCB Testing Case

EAW secures the right to test for PCBs in Worcester schools, achieving a legal victory against the Worcester School Committee due to schools failing PCB tests. In response, the School Committee proactively plans air testing for potential hazardous chemicals, showcasing a commitment to address environmental hazards in Worcester schools, emphasizing the importance of addressing PCB issues in schools.

Senator Markey's Report on PCBs in U.S. Schools

Senator Markey's report reveals widespread PCB issues in U.S. schools, urging Congressional action for proper testing and removal of toxic PCBs. Concurrently, America Unites' three-year advocacy effort for PCB testing and removal results in a precedent-setting victory against the Santa Monica School Board, emphasizing the urgency to address health concerns associated with PCB exposure. Additionally, a Harvard study estimates up to 14 million students in 26,000 U.S. schools may face exposure to unsafe PCB levels, underscoring the continued leaching of these banned chemicals from building materials.

Landing Page for Legal Website

PCB Contamination in Schools: An overview of the silent threat posed by Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in schools, highlighting health issues, a case study at Monroe School, nationwide concerns, historical context, PCB testing in Worcester High Schools, and broader home hazards, along with upcoming legal developments such as the Malibu High School case and the legal battle in San Diego against Monsanto for waterway PCB contamination.

Monsanto PCB Litigation

Baron & Budd law firm represents municipalities, including Long Beach, San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane, in lawsuits against Monsanto, setting a potential corporate accountability precedent. U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes denies Monsanto's motion to dismiss, stating municipalities have legal standing for public nuisance claims.

Sky Valley Education Center Lawsuits

Over 200 students, parents, and teachers file lawsuits against Monroe School District for alleged PCB contamination, leading to a $185 million award to three teachers and a $34 million settlement offer to affected families.

Massachusetts PCB Legal Developments

First Circuit dismisses Westport's attempt to recover $26 million cleanup costs from PCB manufacturers, citing lack of evidence for foreseeability of harm from PCB-caulk volatilization. University of Connecticut settles for $28,125 over EPA allegations of improper PCB disposal during a 2013 renovation. Kimball Sand Company agrees to a $120,000 civil penalty for Clean Air Act violations related to stone crushing and processing equipment.

Land Use and Legal Limitations in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that local board amendments to municipally owned deed restrictions are not covered by Chapter 40B, limiting the state's affordable housing law. The court holds that Chapter 40B does not grant authority to amend municipally owned deed restrictions, emphasizing the fundamental distinction between property right disposition and permit issuance.

Monsanto - San Diego

San Diego achieved a significant legal victory in its 2015 lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB contamination cleanup. The regulatory impact has prompted municipalities, including San Diego, to spend millions addressing PCB toxins. San Diego's case alleges Monsanto's awareness of PCB hazards, seeking shared financial responsibility, with potential widespread legal implications as Baron & Budd pursues similar lawsuits.

Portland Public Schools

In 2016, there were reports of elevated PCB levels in some Portland Public Schools buildings. The district took measures to address the issue, including testing, removal, and renovation of affected areas.

New York City Public Schools

PCB contamination was identified in several New York City schools' lighting fixtures. The city undertook efforts to replace the contaminated fixtures and address the issue in affected schools.

Tucson Unified School District

In 2013, PCB contamination was discovered in some Tucson schools. The district took steps to address the issue and communicate with parents and the community about the measures being taken.

The Future of Monsanto PCB Litigation

McEldrew Purtell will continue to closely monitor those pending lawsuits against Bayer in jurisdictions like Maryland, Delaware, Washington, Oregon, and elsewhere. 

One particular development worth paying attention to is whether Bayer follows through with its threat to defend most of these PCB claims vigorously or becomes more open to settlement talks as cases are decided against the company, especially as other plaintiffs from around the country file suit.

Those in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in the United States who believe they may have a claim are encouraged to speak with an attorney at McEldrew Purtell about their rights and what can be done to protect them.