Doesn’t it just warm the heart to see Monsanto once again getting away with contaminating a community and then adding insult to injury (or more like toxic injury on top of toxic injury…) by being allowed to walk away without cleaning up their mess?
January 7, 2012 - CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As the trial begins in a major toxic pollution lawsuit against Monsanto Co., jurors won’t be allowed to tackle a key issue: Should the company pay to clean up dioxin it allegedly spewed across the city of Nitro?
Experts won’t testify about the need for property remediation. Lawyers won’t argue about the issue. Jurors won’t be asked to force Monsanto to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars such a project could cost.
Judges O.C. Spaulding and Derek Swope issued rulings in July and November that threw out that part of the case.
As a result, Putnam County jurors will decide only if current and former Nitro residents should receive medical monitoring to detect diseases potentially caused by exposure to Monsanto’s dioxin. They won’t be able to do anything to clean up homes and businesses, ending the toxic exposure.
Lawyers for thousands of residents and property owners in the class-action suit appealed the decisions by Spaulding and Swope. They say the rulings left a huge gap in their efforts to deal with the legacy of Monsanto’s chemical-making operations.
“The current presence of dioxin contamination in the class area is a public-health hazard,” the lawyers argued in court documents. “It makes little sense to initiate a medical monitoring program for a population without first eliminating that population’s exposure to the toxin at issue.”
The West Virginia Supreme Court isn’t likely to even begin considering the appeal until April. By the time a decision is made, the trial on the medical monitoring question will probably be over.
The situation has left insiders and observers scratching their heads, as lawyers for Monsanto and Nitro residents prepare to head into one of the biggest civil trials in the Kanawha Valley in years.
“It doesn’t make any sense from the standpoint of the impact on the community,” said longtime Nitro lawyer Harvey Peyton.
Full Story on W. Virginia Gazette-Mail