$62 million award in suit over toxic chemicals at school

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MONROE, Wash. (AP) — Students and parents who say they suffered brain injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals at a Monroe, Washington, public school were awarded $62 million by a jury this week.

The Seattle Times reports that Wednesday’s decision is the second successful lawsuit involving noxious conditions at the school.

More than 200 students, parents and teachers from Sky Valley Education Center say they were poisoned by leaky light ballasts laden with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a type of now-banned chemical that is linked to several illnesses.

They’ve filed 22 lawsuits against Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which in 2018 acquired chemical giant Monsanto, once the sole manufacturer of PCBs, with the first two resulting in jury verdicts of $247 million combined. The rest are awaiting trial.

The plaintiffs say they developed neurological problems, skin lesions, cancer, hormonal diseases and other illnesses after months or years on campus.

The plaintiffs in Wednesday’s verdict included four former students, two parents and an adult who spent time on campus for a community music program, said Rick Friedman, a Seattle attorney representing Sky Valley plaintiffs.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals said in a statement that it disagrees with the jury verdicts in both cases. It plans to file an appeal of the Wednesday verdict, as it did with the July verdict.