Washington v. Monsanto

Date: December 8th, 2016

Topic: Natural Resources, Pesticides & Toxics

Type: Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Jurisdiction: Washington

Citation: State of Washington v. Monsanto Co. (USDC-Western Dist., No. 2:17-cv-00053)

In 2016, Washington sued Monsanto for damages to the state’s natural resources and cleanup costs associated with pollution from PCBs. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are man-made organic chemicals that can remain in the environment for decades. PCBs have globally impacted human and environmental health, and can be found in our rivers, soil, air, and oceans. Exposure to PCBs can cause cancer in animals and humans, as well as a variety of adverse health effects to the human immune, reproductive, and nervous systems.

From 1935 to 1979, Monsanto Company was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States. Monsanto has known since as early as the 1930s that PCBs were toxic to humans but concealed these facts from consumers and continued to produce them until their ban in 1979 by the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Monsanto removed the state court action to federal court asserting federal officer removal, federal enclave, and federal question jurisdiction. Following this removal, Washington filed a motion to remand arguing that the lawsuit belongs in state court as it has asserted state law tort claims for injury to state interests and state resources. All case deadlines have been stayed pending the Court’s ruling on the motion to remand