(Reuters) - Los Angeles County sued Monsanto Co on Thursday, seeking to force the unit of Germany’s Bayer AG to help pay for reducing PCB contamination in dozens of bodies of water.
The most populous U.S. county, which has about 10.1 million people, said the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in products sold by Monsanto many decades ago has caused widespread environmental contamination, forcing it to spend money to retrofit its stormwater systems and prevent further damage.
Los Angeles County said Monsanto had long concealed its knowledge that PCBs were harmful, and created a public nuisance because their presence interferes with commerce, fishing, navigation, swimming and other water-based activities.
In a statement, Bayer said it believed Los Angeles County’s lawsuit had no merit, and that it would defend itself aggressively. Bayer said in its most recent annual report that it had “meritorious defenses” against PCB-related claims.
Oregon sued the agricultural chemical giant Monsanto on Thursday, alleging the company withheld information about the toxic effects of its products for decades, leading to widespread contamination across the state and health risks for humans, plants and animals.
Three plaintiffs have been awarded $17.5 million in damages caused by Monsanto and three other companies for negligence in the production of PCBs. A jury voting 10-2 in St. Louis found Monsanto, Pfizer, Solutia, and Pharmacia must pay the plaintiffs and assessed an additional $29 million in punitive damages against Monsanto for its continued selling of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, after the compound had been banned, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Plaintiffs in this case — three of nearly 100 involved in litigation, some of whom died — said they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from exposure to PCBs.
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