Anyone who worked at or attended a Vermont school found to contain high levels of toxic chemical compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and developed cancer or other related health effects.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys are looking to file lawsuits against Monsanto alleging the agrochemical company manufactured and sold PCBs to be used in building materials despite knowing the compounds were toxic and posed serious health risks. They’re specifically looking to take action on behalf of those who got sick from working at or attending certain Vermont schools.
How Could a Lawsuit Help?
Lawsuits could provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
What You Can Do
Fill out the form on this page for more information. After you get in touch, an attorney or legal representative may reach out to you directly to ask you a few questions and explain more about your options.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to anyone who worked at or attended a Vermont school found to be contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and developed cancer or other health effects.
They are looking to file personal injury lawsuits over the risks posed by PCBs, chemical compounds that were manufactured by agrochemical giant Monsanto and used in fluorescent lighting, caulk, paint and other school building materials before their eventual ban in 1979.
Despite the decades-old ban on the manufacture of PCBs and most uses, PCB-containing materials still exist in schools today in part due to the high cost of removal and a lack of federal regulations.
Allegations are now surfacing, however, that Monsanto, who was essentially the sole manufacturer of PCBs between 1929 and 1977, knew as early as 1937 that its PCB compounds were highly toxic yet continued to make, market and sell them.
Lawsuits from state governments, school districts and sick teachers continue to mount alleging Monsanto is responsible for the harm caused by its PCB mixtures – and now, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking to take action.
As part of their investigation, the attorneys specifically want to hear from teachers, staff and students (as well as loved ones acting on their behalf) who worked at or attended any of the following Vermont schools and developed cancer, reproductive effects, neurological effects, or damage to the immune, endocrine or nervous systems.
Bellows Falls Union High School #27
Berkshire Elementary School
Brighton Elementary School
Burlington High School
Charlotte Central School
Green Mountain Union High School #35
Lunenburg & Gilman Schools
North Country Union High School #22b
Oak Grove School
Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center
Poultney Elementary School
Twinfield Union School
Wallingford Elementary School
The above-listed Vermont schools have already been tested and found to be contaminated with concerning levels of PCBs, according to the Vermont Attorney General’s lawsuit, news reports and state records.
If you or a family member worked at or attended one of these schools and developed cancer or other PCB-related health effects, you may be able to take action. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about your options.
After you get in touch, an attorney or legal representative may reach out to you directly. It doesn’t cost anything to get in touch or to speak to someone, and you’re not obligated to file a lawsuit after reaching out.
Until then, however, PCBs were widely used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications for their temperature, flame and pressure resistance; low reactivity; high boiling point; electrical insulating characteristics; and chemical stability.
PCBs were used in lubricants, hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids and electrical equipment (e.g., capacitors and transformers), and also served as plasticizers for paints, plastics and rubber products. PCBs could also be found in microscope oils, inks and dyes, sealants, carbonless copy paper and electrical appliances like refrigerators and television sets.
In schools renovated or built before 1980, PCBs can be found in caulk and lighting ballasts in fluorescent light fixtures. PCBs may also be present in older schools’ window glazing, ceiling tile coatings, paint and floor finishings.
Teachers, staff and students may inhale PCB particles that are released from building materials into the air. They may also get PCB-containing dust on their hands and inadvertently ingest it while eating or drinking.
In October 2019, an AP News journalist wrote that, in one Washington school, PCB-containing fluorescent lights actually caught fire, smoked and dripped black oil onto floors and desks.
One study found that up to 26,000 U.S. schools contain caulk laced with PCBs, and this does not account for schools that have them in other materials, such as light fixtures and tiles. AP News adds that “millions of fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs probably remain in schools and day care centers across the U.S.,” as their components may last much longer than expected.
According to the EPA, PCBs can also affect the body, including the immune and endocrine systems, in the following ways:
Decrease in size of the thymus gland
Reductions in immune system response
Decreased resistance to Epstein-Barr virus and other infections
Elevated blood pressure, serum triglyceride and serum cholesterol
Decreased thyroid hormone levels
Studies performed on animals including Rhesus monkeys, which, according to the EPA, “are generally regarded as the best laboratory species for predicting adverse reproductive effects in humans,” have found “potentially serious effects on the reproductive system” following exposure to PCB mixtures. These harmful effects, some of which were “observed long after the dosing with PCB occurred,” included reduced birth weights, conception rates and live birth rates. Low sperm counts were also observed in rats exposed to PCBs.
Symptoms of PCB Exposure
Generally speaking, PCBs do not cause any immediate symptoms unless there has been a considerable exposure event, such as in the workplace or following accidental consumption or poisoning. In these cases, the individual may develop irritation of the eyes, nose, lungs and throat; numbness, weakness, and tingling in the arms and legs; headaches; dizziness; nausea; and vomiting.
Longer, low-level exposure, however, may cause skin conditions like chloracne and rashes, darkening of the skin or nails, abnormal liver tests, and an enlarged liver.
Monsanto PCB Exposure Lawsuit: What’s Involved?
In a personal injury lawsuit, a single individual will work with an attorney to file a lawsuit specific to their situation. In this instance, the attorney may first interview the client and ask questions such as:
When did you work at or attend the school?
When did you start to experience symptoms?
When were you diagnosed?
How has the diagnosis impacted your life?
Have you incurred any medical costs?
Did you need to take time off work?
The attorney will then draft a complaint outlining how the individual was exposed to PCBs at work or school, the toxic effects the exposure caused, why Monsanto is responsible for the exposure and resulting health problems, and what type of compensation should be provided.
Attorneys for both sides will then try to resolve the suit and, in doing so, may exchange documents, file motions with the court, etc. If the case is neither settled nor dismissed, it will proceed to a jury trial.
It’s important to remember that the lawsuit will be filed against Monsanto – not the school you worked for or attended.
Is This a Class Action Case?
No. Due to the severity of health conditions linked to PCB exposure, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are only handling these cases as individual, personal injury lawsuits. This means you will need to hire your own attorney and file your own individual case that seeks compensation for the harm you or your loved one has suffered.
To learn more about the difference between individual cases and class action lawsuits, check out this article.
What Can I Get From a PCB Exposure Lawsuit?
The individual or their surviving family may be able to recover money for:
Past and future medical bills
Lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity
Physical pain and suffering
Loss of life’s enjoyment
Loss of spousal benefits (affection, sex, etc.)
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
The attorneys working with ClassAction.org are handling PCB exposure lawsuits on a contingency-fee basis – which means if they don’t win your case, you don’t pay. If the case is successful, the attorney will take a percentage of your settlement or jury award for their work on the case.
Monsanto PCB Settlements
In June 2021, a $550 million settlement was reached to resolve a class action lawsuit that alleged Monsanto’s PCBs damaged the environment and created a serious financial burden for several mostly West Coast municipalities.
According to the lawsuit, Monsanto’s PCBs regularly leech, leak, off-gas and otherwise “[escape] their intended applications” and release into the environment. This case specifically took issue with Monsanto’s PCBs washing into local stormwater, dry-weather runoff and wastewater systems, which, as a result, began discharging PCB-contaminated water.
To help remove or reduce the levels of PCBs, the towns, cities and port districts behind the lawsuit said they had to take on serious costs to monitor, test, treat and remediate the discharged water, with some needing to go so far as to retrofit their systems.
This lawsuit was brought collectively by a number of major municipalities, including San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; and Spokane, Washington.
Separately, Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, has faced individual lawsuits from state attorneys general, with the PCB litigation resulting in payouts in the following settlement amounts: $698 million for Oregon; $95 million for Washington; $80 million for Ohio; $52 million for Washington, D.C.; and $25 million for New Hampshire. These suits similarly alleged Monsanto continued to market and manufacture the chemical compounds despite knowing their risks and should therefore pay for cleanup costs related to PCB pollution of wildlife, waterways and more.
In July 2021, three Washington teachers, who alleged they suffered brain damage from PCBs in their school’s fluorescent lighting, were successful in their case against Monsanto and awarded $185 million in a jury trial. The teachers worked at Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, Washington, where more than 200 people have brought injury claims, according to Bayer.
Vermont Schools & PCB Contamination
Nearly 100 Vermont school districts also took legal action over the presence of PCBs in schools, alleging they will need to monitor the levels of the dangerous compounds, find alternative arrangements for classes, and remediate or demolish and replace certain buildings. The school districts say they will need to spend “many millions of dollars…if not billions” to provide safe education facilities for students.
Vermont is currently in the process of testing the indoor air of all schools built and renovated before 1980 for PCBs. It expects all testing to be completed by July 2027 and currently posts both the testing schedule and results online.
Bayer states that it is already facing a lawsuit from three individuals who allege they were injured from PCB exposure at Burlington High School in Vermont.
What You Can Do
If you (or a family member) worked at or attended one of the Vermont schools listed above and developed cancer or other serious health effects, learn more about this investigation and your options by filling out the form on this page. After you get in touch, an attorney or legal representative may reach out to you directly. It doesn’t cost anything to contact us or to speak to someone.