The Seeger Weiss environmental litigation team, led by partner Matt Pawa, filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of Vermont’s Burlington School District against Monsanto for its role in manufacturing, marketing and distributing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In 2020, Burlington School District was forced to close Burlington High School and Burlington Technical Center after testing found PCB contamination, with concentrations significantly in exceedance of health and safety standards.
After this discovery, the District had no choice but to do a complete demolition and replacement of the school campuses to provide students and staff with a safe learning and working environment; a project estimated to cost at least $190 million. Among other relief, the lawsuit is seeking damages for the District’s injuries associated with the demolition and rebuilding of school campuses; removing a massive burden from the community dealing with this dangerous contamination.
“Today’s filing brings us one step closer to holding the producer of these toxic chemicals accountable for the harm it has inflicted on our community,” said District Superintendent Tom Flanagan.
The Seeger Weiss team brings extensive experience representing state and local entities entities in litigation against large corporations for the toxic pollution caused by PBCs. PCBs are highly toxic, man-made chemical compounds known to accumulate and cause serious health effects in humans and animals. These chemicals are especially dangerous to children and adolescents, who are more susceptible to PCBs’ neurodevelopmental impacts than adults. The well-documented dangers of PCBs led the US Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use these harmful chemicals in 1979. But contamination from these chemicals continues to be a major issue today, impacting communities across the country.
“Despite knowing that PCBs were highly toxic to humans and animals, Monsanto manufactured and sold these toxic chemicals for decades and misled the public about the dangers posed by its products,” Pawa said. “Because of Monsanto’s deception, Burlington High School and Burlington Technical Center are contaminated with levels of PCBs significantly in excess of health and safety standards, rendering the buildings unusable and unsafe. We look forward to holding Monsanto accountable.”