Monsanto Co., and its former chemicals unit, Solutia, Inc., have agreed to pay $600 million in cash to settle claims brought by thousands of Anniston, Alabama residents over the dumping of toxic PCBs in the area until the 1970s, the companies said yesterday. The settlement concludes lengthy litigation involving two court cases and more than 20,000 residents who sued over severer ground and water contamination by tons of industrial coolant chemicals discharged from a manufacturing plant from the 1930s to 1970s. In addition to the $600 million, the companies will fun community-based programs such as a PCB research laboratory and a special prescription-drug program and cover additional cleanup costs. Those expenses could bring the settlementÃ¢e(TM)s value to about $800 million, lawyers for the plaintiffs said. Ã¢eoeItÃ¢e(TM)s a monumental settlement, without question. It has great benefits to the community. Our objective as to rid the community of the PCBs, to have a total cleanup, and that will happen now,Ã¢e said Jere Beasley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Ã¢eoeI think itÃ¢e(TM)s a good lesson for corporate America that when they cause problems theyÃ¢e(TM)ve got to deal with it.Ã¢e St. Louis-based Monsanto, which no focuses on agricultural biotechnology, spun off its chemical division in 1997, creating Solutia, before being purchased by Pharmacia Corp., now a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc. Monsanto agreed to pay $390 million in cash and Solutia will pay $50 million over 10 years, with the rest covered by insurance, according to company statements. Solutia and Pharmacia will contribute to the community initiatives, which will include a grant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to create a community health clinic and discount prescription-drug programs for low-income residents in the Anniston area. For several decades the old Monsanto dumped the now-banned PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, near the working-class community of Anniston, but residents didnÃ¢e(TM)t learn about the pollution until 1996. Court documents showed that Monsanto was aware of the pollution decades earlier, having dissected hogs that were contaminated at PCB levels more than 90,000 times the maximum safe concentration as defined by some states today. Scientists have linked PCBs to developmental disabilities, immune-system problems and liver diseases. They are considered Ã¢eoeprobably carcinogensÃ¢e by the Environmental Protection Agency and have been banned in the United States since 1979. Last year, and Alabama jury found that Monsanto had engaged in Ã¢eoeoutrageousÃ¢e conduct in Anniston, finding it and its corporate successors liable for the PCB contamination. Jurors had already awarded more than $100 million in damages against eh companies in one phase of a state civil trial that began more than a year ago. The award covered only property-damage claims for some of the plaintiffs. Personal-injury and punitive damage claims had not yet been tried. The settlement concludes that trial and also avoids a federal civil trial involving thousands of plaintiffs scheduled for the fall. When it spun off Solutia, Monsanto agreed to cover SolutiaÃ¢e(TM)s liabilities in the PCB matter if Solutia was unable to pay. Last week, Solutia told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it might have to file for bankruptcy protection if it could not contain the cost of the PCB legal cases and cleanups. Monsanto said in a statement that bearing the bulk of the settlement helps in Ã¢eoemitigating the longer-term risk associates with Solutia.Ã¢e For Solutia and Monsanto, the case has been a public relations disaster that they hope will end with the settlement. Ã¢eoeWeÃ¢e(TM)re very pleased to resolve this,Ã¢e said Glenn Ruskin, a spokesman for Solutia. Ã¢eoeItÃ¢e(TM)s been a real drain on the company and our employees. I think by putting this behind us it is a new beginning. We are committed to doing a cleanup in that community.Ã¢e
We're here to help!
We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.
In the News
Fly ash data removed from spreadsheets, TVA engineer...
Leigh ODell on Building Oaks of Righteousness
Alexander wants legal action
Leaking storage tank sites in ECI total 250
Beasley Allen improves quality of life for those...
DuPont finds high levels of C8 in Chinese workers
Wonderful to work with
Beasley Allen did a great job with my case. They were wonderful to work with. They were available by phone when I needed them, treated me with the utmost respect and worked hard on my behalf. If a need arises in the future, I would definitely call on them again.