Attorney General Charity Clark today filed an amicus brief asking a federal court to stay, or temporarily pause, a federal PCB lawsuit brought by a group of schools against Monsanto, after the State had already filed a suit in state court against Monsanto for PCB contamination in Vermont schools. The brief notes that the basis and relief requested in the later-filed federal suit, Addison Central School District et al. v. Monsanto et al., overlaps with the State’s first-filed suit currently proceeding in state court. The State’s suit, filed in June of this year, is a statewide lawsuit against the manufacturers of PCBs that contaminated Vermont schools. The State’s suit seeks to recoup the millions of dollars the State is spending on its school testing and remediation program and alleges claims for PCB contamination in the natural environment, including Lake Champlain. Temporarily pausing the federal suit will conserve resources and is likely to save taxpayer dollars. A stay also provides a path forward that will allow issues to be resolved more efficiently, without duplicating efforts and causing piecemeal litigation. Under state law, only the State can bring a lawsuit for reimbursement of the statewide testing program.
“Vermonters are counting on the State to litigate this large and significant case efficiently and effectively,” Attorney General Clark said. “An overlapping lawsuit in federal court will not further this goal. It is also critical that we maximize the amount of recouped money going to remediate schools.”
Notably, the outside lawyers assisting the Attorney General’s Office on the State’s case will receive a contingency fee of 12-20% of any recovery. According to media reports, the plaintiffs’ attorneys representing the schools in the separate lawsuit will receive 33% of any recovery.
Any schools that have questions about the State’s suit and request for a stay can review this Q&A.
The request for a stay will not impact the State’s PCB testing program or remediation efforts; sampling and remedial work will continue as scheduled. Schools that have questions around the State’s PCB testing and remediation program should contact the Agency of Natural Resources.
A copy of the State’s brief is available here.
CONTACT: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171