Stacy Mullen-Deland (center) gives an account of health issues faced by her children as Jill Savery (left) and attorney Sean Gamble listen during a press conference in downtown Seattle on Jan. 3, 2018. Mullen-Deland and 35 others sued Monsanto and the state on Tuesday, alleging a toxic environment at Sky Valley in Monroe has made them sick. (David Rzegocki)

Stacy Mullen-Deland (center) gives an account of health issues faced by her children as Jill Savery (left) and attorney Sean Gamble listen during a press conference in downtown Seattle on Jan. 3, 2018. Mullen-Deland and 35 others sued Monsanto and the state on Tuesday, alleging a toxic environment at Sky Valley in Monroe has made them sick. (David Rzegocki)

Jury: Monsanto must pay $857M over PCBs in Monroe school

Hundreds of students, parents, teachers and staff have sued over harmful chemicals at the Sky Valley Education Center.


MONROE — A King County jury awarded $857 million to women who claimed exposure to harmful chemicals manufactured by Monsanto at the Sky Valley Education Center, the latest resolution in extensive litigation that has cost the chemical giant upward of $1.7 billion.

The verdict, first reported by Law360 and Reuters, comes in the form of $784 million in punitive damages and $73 million in compensatory damages to seven plaintiffs, following a two-month trial in King County Superior Court.

Hundreds of students, parents, teachers and staff have sued Bayer Pharmaceuticals — which acquired Monsanto in 2018 — over polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that leaked from light fixtures at the Monroe school. They claim brain injuries and other health issues stemming from the exposure that officials allowed to fester, a Seattle Times investigation found.

Banned in 1979 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the manmade chemicals were used in fluorescent light ballasts. Monsanto produced the PCBs, also known as Aroclors.

When Sky Valley was built in 1950, some 95% of the light ballasts had PCBs, according to court documents. For years, teachers and students noticed brown, oily liquid leaking from the light fixtures. Staff would put trash cans underneath and tell pupils to stay away.

Lawsuits across the country have claimed Monsanto covered up the risks of chemical exposure, including cancer and other illnesses.

In 1955, for example, a Monsanto scientist reportedly urged his superiors to approve testing of PCBs.

“We know Aroclors are toxic,” the scientist wrote, according to court filings.

It took until 1977 for the company to stop producing PCBs, under intense regulatory pressure.

Jill Savery, one of the plaintiffs in this case, told reporters in 2018 that she felt Sky Valley was “poisoning” her and her children. One of her daughters passed out at school. And her oldest daughter started carrying a mask because she was so sensitive to scents and chemicals. That wasn’t a problem before she spent time in the Sky Valley buildings, Savery said.

All seven plaintiffs reported nervous system dysfunction related to learning or teaching in the Sky Valley Education Center.

“No one who heard this evidence would ever change places with any of these people in exchange for all the money the jury awarded,” Henry Jones, a lawyer for the plaintiffs from the Friedman Rubin law firm, said in an email Monday.

In a statement, Monsanto said it will appeal the verdict.

“The objective evidence in this case, including blood, air and other tests, demonstrates that plaintiffs were not exposed to unsafe levels of PCBs, and PCBs could not have caused their alleged injuries,” the company said Monday.

Time after time, juries in recent years have found Monsanto liable for injuries reported by students and staff who studied in or worked at the school.

In 2021, three Monroe teachers were awarded $185 million. Last year, a jury handed down a $275 million verdict involving 10 students and parents.

And last month, yet another jury found Monsanto owed $165 million to a group of school employees.

The total payouts from Monsanto come to a staggering $1.74 billion, according to Law360.

Nineteen other cases still await trial in King County Superior Court, Jones said.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Everett police officers on the scene of a single-vehicle collision on Evergreen Way and Olivia Park Road Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)
Everett man gets 3 years for driving high on fentanyl, killing passenger

In July, Hunter Gidney crashed into a traffic pole on Evergreen Way. A passenger, Drew Hallam, died at the scene.

FILE - Then-Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., speaks on Nov. 6, 2018, at a Republican party election night gathering in Issaquah, Wash. Reichert filed campaign paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission on Friday, June 30, 2023, to run as a Republican candidate. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
6 storylines to watch with Washington GOP convention this weekend

Purist or pragmatist? That may be the biggest question as Republicans decide who to endorse in the upcoming elections.

Keyshawn Whitehorse moves with the bull Tijuana Two-Step to stay on during PBR Everett at Angel of the Winds Arena on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
PBR bull riders kick up dirt in Everett Stampede headliner

Angel of the Winds Arena played host to the first night of the PBR’s two-day competition in Everett, part of a new weeklong event.

Simreet Dhaliwal speaks after winning during the 2024 Snohomish County Emerging Leaders Awards Presentation on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Simreet Dhaliwal wins The Herald’s 2024 Emerging Leaders Award

Dhaliwal, an economic development and tourism specialist, was one of 12 finalists for the award celebrating young leaders in Snohomish County.

In this Jan. 12, 2018 photo, Ben Garrison, of Puyallup, Wash., wears his Kel-Tec RDB gun, and several magazines of ammunition, during a gun rights rally at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
With gun reform law in limbo, Edmonds rep is ‘confident’ it will prevail

Despite a two-hour legal period last week, the high-capacity ammunition magazine ban remains in place.

Everett Fire Department and Everett Police on scene of a multiple vehicle collision with injuries in the 1400 block of 41st Street. (Photo provided by Everett Fire Department)
1 in critical condition after crash with box truck, semi in Everett

Police closed 41st Street between Rucker and Colby avenues on Wednesday afternoon, right before rush hour.

The Arlington Public Schools Administration Building is pictured on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
$2.5M deficit in Arlington schools could mean dozens of cut positions

The state funding model and inflation have led to Arlington’s money problems, school finance director Gina Zeutenhorst said Tuesday.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Jesse L. Hartman (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)
Everett man who fled to Mexico given 22 years for fatal shooting

Jesse Hartman crashed into Wyatt Powell’s car and shot him to death. He fled but was arrested on the Mexican border.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.