McDermott Scores Key Trial Victory for Monsanto in PCB Suit


LOS ANGELES (April 8, 2016) — McDermott Will & Emery secured a key victory this week for firm client Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON). The case turned on the alleged health risks of the plaintiffs’ exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the environment.

The two plaintiffs argued that their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was the result of eating food contaminated by PCBs manufactured by the former Monsanto from the 1930s until the mid-70s. They accused the former Monsanto, the largest manufacturer of PCBs in the United States, of continuing to produce the compounds for decades while withholding their health risks from the public. Both sought over $15 million combined in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages. Monsanto argued that while PCBs are known to be in the environment, they have not been linked to the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans. They went on to argue that actions taken by the company as far back as the 1930s must be considered in a different light than the more stringent environmental standards in place today, but even so, Monsanto’s conduct decades ago was consistent with today’s standard of care.

The jury deliberated for more than three days following weeks of expert testimony before determining that while the plaintiffs, Roslyn Dauber and John DiCostanzo, were exposed to PCBs, these chemicals were not the likely cause of their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On April 5th, the 12-member jury in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County cleared Monsanto of liability for the plaintiffs’ illnesses – the third time this result had been reached for the client.

Monsanto today, and for the last decade, has been focused solely on agriculture. While its involvement in this trial stems from contractual obligations associated with those former businesses, and while the company has sympathy for anyone with an illness, the cases of Ms. Dauber and Mr. DiCostanzo have nothing to do with Monsanto’s business today.

The McDermott team consisted of Miami-based lawyers Anthony (Tony) Upshaw, Marissa Krumm and Asra Chatham, with assistance from Natalie Moya and Maria Blanco-Aleman.

About McDermott

McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dallas, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Further extending our reach into Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.