Cites and Monsanto File a Renewed Motion to Approve their Class Action Settlement

A renewed motion for preliminary approval of a settlement has been filed in a lawsuit against the Monsanto Company, Solutia, Inc. and Pharmacia LLC in the Central District of California – Western Division on Thursday. The plaintiffs, numerous cities and municipalities across the United States, sued Monsanto for the alleged “manufactur(ing), sale, promotion, and supply(ing) of chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) result(ing) in the contamination of Plaintiffs’ stormwater and other resources, necessitating treatment and/or remediation to remove PCBs.”

This motion “is the result of contentious, prolonged, arm’s-length negotiations during in-person meetings and numerous telephone conference mediation sessions between early to mid-2019 and March 2020,” according to the filing. The plaintiffs and defendants agreed that Monsanto will pay $550 million to the Settlement Fund and up to $98 million in attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs claimed that the Settlement is a “fair, reasonable, and adequate resolution of (their) claims,” after making changes for the “specific matters raised by the Court” on March 19th. The Preliminary Approval Hearing of the Class Action Settlement will be on July 22nd.

The plaintiffs, represented by Baron & Budd, P.C., are: the City of Long Beach, the County Of Los Angeles, the City of Chula Vista, the City of San Diego, the City of San Jose, the City of Oakland, the City of Berkeley, the City of Spokane, the City of Tacoma, the City of Portland, the Port of Portland, Baltimore County, and the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, all individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.

The plaintiffs asked the Court to certify the Settlement Class, preliminary approve the terms of the Settlement, approve the Notice Plan, appoint the Class Action Settlement Administrator and appoint Lead and Co-Class Counsel.

The City of Seattle, which is not a plaintiff but is a member of the putative class, objected to previous motions for approval of the settlement claiming that it was an overbroad release of claims and would bar future claims related to Monsanto’s alleged PCB releases.