Reports indicate that Monsanto has reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by US residents who say they were poisoned by chemicals used in the manufacturing of the Agent Orange in their town of Nitro, West Virginia.
The Guardian reports:
The long-running suit was brought by residents living near a now defunct Monsanto plant in Nitro, West Virginia that between 1949 and 1971 produced the agricultural herbicide 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacidic acid, a key ingredient in Agent Orange. [...]
The suit – filed on behalf of tens of thousands of people who lived, worked and went to school in Nitro after 1949 – claims that Monsanto spread toxic substances including dioxins, which have been linked to cancer, all over the town.
The plaintiffs say they were exposed to levels of dioxins 100,000 times higher than acceptable levels. "Dioxin is a known human carcinogen and is so hazardous to human health that no "safe" level of exposure has been established," the suit claims.
It demands ongoing testing for at least 5,000 people who may have been affected by exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The Charleston Gazette reports that the judge in the case, Judge Derek Swope, had raised some questions about the agreement including concerns the man Monsanto suggested administer the medical monitoring program is a former defense expert for the company.
The Charleston Gazette adds:
If a settlement is not agreed upon on Friday, a more extensive jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday, Swope said. Six jurors and six alternates would have to be selected out of the 28-person jury pool.
Mediation efforts last October and December failed to produce a settlement.
Swope warned lawyers on Thursday that a gag order, preventing lawyers from talking with the press about the case, is still being strictly enforced. The judge sealed all documents pertaining to the proposed settlement. He would not talk to a reporter after Thursday's hearing.