Lawsuit blames medical problems at Monroe school on PCBs

VIDEO: 36 people sue Monroe SD, Monsanto

A lawsuit filed on behalf of 36 people blames illnesses at a school in Monroe on poisoning from PCBs.

Attorney Sean Gamble says more than a hundred people connected with Sky Valley Education Center have reported getting sick.

"I never put it together until my daughter had hormone issues, thyroid issues, diagnosed with diabetes, passing out from seizures at school," said parent and plaintiff Jill Savery.

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Because Sky Valley is an alternative program with a lot of parent involvement, parents are among those reporting illnesses, including skin conditions.

Stacy Mullen-Deland taught at the school and her children were students there.

She says they all became sick.

"We went to doctor after doctor and all concluded that we were suffering from chemical poisoning," Mullen-Deland said.

The new lawsuit points to PCB contamination used in caulking and old fluorescent light fixtures in the school.

The lawsuit says the Monroe School District knew about the risk and didn't remediate the contamination fast enough.

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It also names Monsanto, the maker of PCBs, claiming the company knew its product was toxic well before it was banned.

"This lawsuit is about corporate responsibility and governmental accountability," Gamble said.

In a statement to KIRO 7, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, Scott Partridge, wrote that the company voluntarily stopped PCB production more than 40 years ago.

"At the time Monsanto manufactured PCBs, they were a legal and approved product used in many useful applications. Monsanto continues to review the allegations contained in the complaint, but we believe we will find that this case lacks merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously," the company statement reads.

Attorney Patricia Buchanan, who represents the Monroe School District, sent a statement saying the district identified and cleaned all potentially affected fixtures and temporarily restricted access to parts of the school during testing.

"The District's number one priority and commitment is the safety of its students and staff, and the District has continued to comprehensively monitor the air quality within the facility, even after recent testing indicated no detectable levels of PCBs," the statement reads.

Buchanan also wrote that the claims against the district are "not well founded."

The lawsuit also names the Snohomish Health District.

A spokeswoman wrote that district lawyers were still reviewing the complaint.

The state of Washington is also listed as a defendant.