Monsanto Told to Pay Teachers $185 Million Over Chemical Exposure

Three school teachers in Washington will receive $185 million after suing chemical company Monsanto over chemical exposure from fluorescent lights that caused brain damage.

The teachers claimed they were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from fluorescent lighting in the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, Washington, and caulk used in its walls. They claimed the Snohomish Health District knew of the presence of PCBs at the school long before it took remedial action.

A state jury in Seattle awarded $50,150,000 in actual damages and $135 million in punitive damages to the teachers at the conclusion of a six-week trial.

The jury deliberated one and a half days before reaching the verdict on Tuesday afternoon.

Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, said the company disagreed with the verdict and may appeal.

The company said the light ballasts that were the focus of the lawsuit were obsolete.

A 2019 investigation found that millions of fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs probably remain in schools and day care centers across the U.S. 

These materials were banned four decades ago over concerns that they could cause cancer and other illnesses.

PCBs are mixtures of compounds manufactured by Monsanto Co. and were widely used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment until they were banned in 1979.

This case was the first of 22 trials involving teachers, parents, and students who spent time at the Sky Valley Education Center.

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