Milberg Filing VT School PCB Contamination Lawsuits Against Monsanto
Attorneys for Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman (“Milberg”) are suing Monsanto for Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) contamination at Vermont schools.
PCBs are highly toxic chemicals associated with a wide range of health problems. Milberg’s PCB lawsuits claim that Monsanto marketed and sold products containing PCBs despite knowing their dangers. The first lawsuit was filed in December 2023 on behalf of a former student at Twin Valley Elementary school in Wilmington, Vermont, with others to follow this year.
Act 74 and PCB Testing in Vermont
The Vermont legislature passed Act 74 in 2021, which requires all public schools built or renovated prior to 1980 to complete air indoor quality testing for PCBs. Testing began in spring 2022 and will be completed by 2025. More than 300 schools across the state are scheduled for testing. A complete list that includes test dates is available here.
Elevated Airborne PCBs Found at Twin Valley Elementary School
Testing at Twin Valley Elementary School in March 2023 found elevated airborne PCB levels in multiple classrooms, facilities, the library, and gymnasium.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources requires schools to act if PCB testing reveals airborne contamination levels above certain thresholds. Twin Valley’s results were nowhere near passable. Several areas had PCB levels that were double and even triple Vermont’s “immediate action levels” standards, while more than a dozen rooms and spaces tested above “action levels.”
Twin Valley reportedly paid more than $18,000 to install air filters in the affected areas, but to no avail: a second round of testing found even higher levels of PCBs in every room retested.
PCBs Pose Numerous Human Health Risks
According to the Vermont Department of Health, long-term PCB exposure can cause cancer and immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine system effects.
An EPA report found that PCB exposure is linked to cancers of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tract, brain, stomach, intestines, thyroid, plasma cells, lymphatic system, breasts, and skin. EPA classifies PCBs as probable human carcinogens.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently concluded that “There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs cause malignant melanoma. Positive associations have been observed for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cancer of the breast.” IARC classifies PCBs as carcinogenic to humans.
Lawsuit Claims Monsanto Knew of PCB Health Risks
Milberg’s lawsuit makes the case that Monsanto knew about the dangers of PCBs since the 1930s—when it began manufacturing the chemicals—but continued to produce and promote them as a construction material that was used in school facilities and buildings through the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Evidence of PCB toxicity, including internal company data and government data, suggests that Monsanto knew its PCBs cause indoor air contamination, yet it concealed this information from the public.
The list of schools with PCB contamination will likely grow as testing is completed. We encourage all current and former students, parents, staff, and teachers to contact us and learn how they can hold Monsanto accountable.
Plaintiff Kristy Crawford, who attended Twin Valley Elementary from 1982 to 1990 and has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and reproductive issues, developed health problems as a result of Monsanto’s “campaign of deception,” the lawsuit argues.
Crawford “suffered and continues to suffer the burdens of cancer, chemotherapy, and the high price tags associated with cancer treatment and monitoring” caused by exposure to PCBs, she says, because Monsanto “failed to issue any public warnings, notices, or information that PCBs are present in schoolhouses and are extremely toxic and threaten public health.”
She seeks economic, non-economic, and punitive damages from Monsanto in her lawsuit based on design defect, failure to warn, negligence, and misrepresentation claims.
More Monsanto PCB Lawsuits to Come
Since PCB testing began at Vermont schools, a wave of litigation has ensued. Vermont school districts, the state attorney general, and former educators are among those taking Monsanto to task for PCB contamination and its related health and environmental impacts.
Milberg’s lawsuit on behalf of Crawford is the first of many such cases the firm expects to file. Milberg attorneys are looking to represent those diagnosed with PCB injuries from Burlington High School, North Country Union High School (Newport), Green Mountain Union High School (Chester), Bellow Falls Union High School (Westminster), and Oak Grove School (Brattleboro).
At least one-third of the Vermont schools tested so far have actionable levels of PCBs. In a press release, Zachary Howard of Milberg said that, “The list of schools with PCB contamination will likely grow as testing is completed. We encourage all current and former students, parents, staff, and teachers to contact us and learn how they can hold Monsanto accountable.”
Milberg’s Environmental Litigation Practice
Milberg has a history of successfully taking on some of the planet’s biggest polluters. In addition to Vermont PCB lawsuits, we are currently engaged in litigating cases that involve climate change, PFAS, and dam collapse damage in Brazil.
Environmental bad actors like Monsanto are some of the largest, wealthiest, and most influential corporations in the world. Holding them accountable requires a law firm with the necessary strength and resources. Milberg has been fighting to protect victims’ rights since 1965 and has recovered over $50 billion for our clients.