City of Baltimore Announces Approval of $537 Million Class Action Settlement with Monsanto for PCB Contamination
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, November 30, 2022) - The City of Baltimore will receive a portion of the $537.5 million settlement reached with chemical maker Monsanto and two associated companies as the result of a nationwide class action lawsuit over PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination in municipal water systems. PCBs are industrial chemicals that were used in electrical equipment and a wide range of other products from the 1930s until the 1970s, when they were banned by federal law.
The City filed its own lawsuit against Monsanto in 2019, alleging that PCBs have impacted municipal stormwater systems and other water systems. The City obtained a ruling rejecting Monsanto's attempt to dismiss the case in 2020. Cases filed against Monsanto, Solutia Inc., and Pharmacia LLC by municipalities nationwide were later condensed into a single class action lawsuit, with the City serving as one of thirteen class representatives.
Judge Fernando Olguin of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, who signed off on the settlement, said, "the Court finds that the Settlement Agreement is fair, adequate and reasonable, appears to be the product of arm's-length and informed negotiations, and treats all members of the class fairly."
The settlement creates four separate funds to compensate the plaintiff municipalities for monitoring, cleaning up, and restoring the affected water systems. Over 2,500 municipal class members will participate in the settlement.
Sara Gross, chief solicitor of the Baltimore City Law Department, said, "we are very pleased to have concluded this case on such favorable terms and to report to the citizens of Baltimore that those responsible for polluting our water systems will be funding their monitoring, cleanup, and restoration. Water is one of our most vital resources and we will be zealous in its protection and in seeking justice from those whose activities might jeopardize it."
The four funds created by the settlement and the total monies allocated to them are:
Monitoring Fund - $42,894,983 for monitoring for PCB contamination in waterways, stormwater systems, and other areas of contamination.
TMDL Fund - $250,000,000 to compensate plaintiff cities for restitution and remediation of affected water systems. A TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, is the state-designated allowable limit for a particular pollutant in water bodies.
Sediments Fund - $137,500,000 to compensate plaintiff cities for addressing PCB contamination of sediments through stormwater and other runoff.
Special Needs Fund - $107,105,016 to compensate the plaintiff municipalities for the effort and expense of bringing litigation.
The settlement also creates a Special Master position to help oversee distribution of funds to members of the plaintiff class.
In addition to the City of Baltimore, the class was represented by Baltimore County, Md.; Los Angeles County, Calif.; the Cities of San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, and Chula Vista, Calif.; Spokane and Tacoma, Wash.; and the City and Port of Portland, Ore.
The City of Baltimore was represented in the litigation by Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., Gordon, Wolf & Carney Chtd., and Baron & Budd PC, as well as the City Law Department.