Spokane leads $550 million national settlement on PCB contamination

Resolves national PCB water contamination claims for more than 2,500 governmental entities

Marlene Feist, Public Works, (509) 625-6505

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 10:43 a.m.

Today, the City of Spokane, along with 12 other governmental entities, announced a proposed nationwide class action settlement with Monsanto Company, Pharmacia, LLC, and Solutia, Inc. for $550 million, resolving national PCB water contamination claims for a proposed class of 2,528 governmental entities.

Legal motions to approve the proposed settlement class have been filed in federal court in the Central District of California, in a case before Judge Fernando M. Olguin. Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed by governmental entities since March 2015 seeking cost recovery for stormwater and environmental contamination alleged by Plaintiffs to have been caused by chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which Monsanto manufactured between the 1930s and 1977.

The settling named class plaintiffs leading the nationwide resolution include the City of Spokane, City of Tacoma, the City of Portland, the Port of Portland, the City of Berkeley, the City of Oakland, the City of San Jose, County of Los Angeles, City of Long Beach, City of San Diego, City of Chula Vista, City of Baltimore, and Baltimore County. The cases were collectively litigated for over 5 years and were mediated and resolved through JAMS Mediator Judge (Ret.) Jay Gandhi.

“This national resolution will provide more than  2,500 local communities funds for monitoring, mitigation, and remediation efforts to manage PCBs in stormwater, stormwater systems, sediments, and water bodies,” said Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward. “The Spokane River is a precious regional asset, and the City has been proud to lead efforts to protect it and to protect waters throughout the state and nation.”

The proposed class action must be approved by Judge Olguin prior to providing payments to the governmental entity class members. The proposed class action will provide all class members with a monetary benefit and will additionally provide funds for those governmental entities that have incurred or will incur significant expenses to protect and remediate America’s waterways.

The City is represented by City Attorney Mike Ormsby, Assistant City Attorneys Elizabeth Schoedel and Sam Faggiano, and by outside counsel Scott Summy, John Fiske, and Carla Burke of Baron & Budd, P.C. and proposed Lead Class Counsel.