Judge Gives Monsanto Suits Class-Action Status

January 14, 2008

Two lawsuits alleging dioxin from a former Monsanto Co. plant contaminated residential properties and streams will be tried as class-action cases.

According to court documents, Putnam County, W.Va. Circuit Court Judge O.C. Spaulding certified the lawsuits against Monsanto as class-action cases this week. Thousands of current and former Nitro residents could be included in one case that was filed in December 2004. The second case, filed in August 2000, includes owners of about 100 properties in the Manila and Heizer Creek areas near Nitro.

Monsanto owned the Nitro plant from 1934 until 2000. The plant closed in 2004.

The lawsuits allege that dioxin from Monsanto’s production of 2,4,5-T, a powerful herbicide ingredient, polluted local properties and local streams.

Monsanto started making 2,4,5-T in Nitro in 1949 and produced it there for more than 30 years. The chemical is best known as an ingredient of Agent Orange, the defoliant deployed widely in the Vietnam War.

But 2,4,5-T was later found to be contaminated with dioxin.

Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, endometriosis, infertility and suppressed immune functions. The chemical builds up in tissue over time, so even small exposures can accumulate to dangerous levels.

The 2000 lawsuit alleges that alleges that Monsanto dumped waste containing dioxin in area landfills and did not properly clean up the dumps. It seeks a court-run fund to clean up contaminated properties, money to reclaim contaminated streams and punitive damages.

The other lawsuit alleges that dioxin from the plant contaminated the entire city of Nitro. It seeks a court-run medical monitoring fund, property cleanups, damages for property pollution and punitive damages.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette,

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