Seattle Expresses Concerns with Bayer’s Class Action Waterway Settlement

The City of Seattle says it has concerns with a settlement in a class action case after filing to become an interested party. The case, which was originally filed by Long Beach, CA in the California Central District accused Monsanto of polluting waterways during its manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. 

Bayer, which purchased Monsanto in 2018, agreed to pay about $820 million to New Mexico, Washington state, Washington D.C, and 2,500 cities and towns to resolve the complaint. Bayer announced other settlements in late June to resolve legislation against Monsanto, including cases regarding its Round-up and Dicamba products. Monsanto was the only producer of PCBs between 1935 and 1979, and allegedly concealed that they were contaminating natural resources prior to the Toxic Substances Control Act which stopped production of PCBs. 

Seattle, which claims it was initially a class member, asked the court to delay a hearing on the proposed settlement scheduled for July 23rd and extend the deadline for responses because of concerns that the settlement would impact their own legislation. Seattle was granted a stay in its own legislation after issues with discovery. The city also asked to appear at the hearing if its concerns are not addressed before that point. 

“Seattle has been litigating significant PCB-related nuisance and negligence claims against the Monsanto Defendants in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington since 2016,” the city’s motion states. “Seattle now finds itself in the unusual position of being forced to make a decision about whether and how to participate in a Settlement that it did not negotiate and that would eliminate in one blow the hundreds of millions of dollars it seeks from Monsanto in its own hard-fought litigation.” 

Seattle is represented by Rachel E. Morowitz with Keller Rohrback. The City of Long Beach is represented by Baron and Budd. The defendants, Monsanto, Solutia Inc., and Pharmacia Corporation, are represented by Lathan & Watkins.