Cities Receive Checks From Monsanto Settlement

April 24, 2023

The checks are legitimate and intended as compensation for potentially unnecessary testing and mitigation efforts.

Minnesota cities and counties are beginning to receive sizable checks from a Monsanto Class Action Settlement. Cities should rest assured that these checks — for approximately $17,000, $27,000, or $32,000 — are legitimate. They are intended as compensation for testing and mitigation efforts, which might not have been necessary if not for the actions of the Class Action Defendant.

Class action lawsuit details

Not too long ago, several large and mostly West Coast cities sued Monsanto for manufacturing a class of industrial chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were released into the environment between the 1930s and 1977.

By early 2022, a class action lawsuit was established: City of Long Beach v. Monsanto Co., Case No. 2:16-CV-03493-FMO-AS (C.D. Ca.). The suit alleged various causes of action against Monsanto for PCB-related impairments to the environment, including to water bodies. The cities alleged that PCBs were present at sites and public properties, including in stormwater, stormwater and wastewater systems, water bodies, sediment, natural resources, fish, and wildlife.

Members of the certified class include government subdivisions that are covered under MS4 (municipal separate storm-sewer system) permits in the drainage areas of or near to specific types of or listed water bodies. A notice was mailed to potential class members around the end of March 2022. As this was an opt-out class action, any potential members of the class that wanted to pursue the causes of action on their own had to opt out by July 25, 2022.

View the court-approved notice sent to potential class members (pdf)

Settlement payments

During the week of April 17, all members of the class automatically received a payment from a portion of the settlement called the “Monitoring Fund.” This included many government subdivisions in Minnesota.

In addition to consideration for release from claims, the payment is intended to compensate for “PCB sampling and/or any other mitigation efforts in the Settlement Class Member’s sole discretion, as part of compliance with applicable law.” All class members within Minnesota should be aware, this is the only money they will receive automatically from the settlement.

View a list of government subdivisions in Minnesota that received settlement payments (pdf)

Finally, class members should know there is one more opportunity for additional funding but only for special cases. The settlement includes a “Special Needs Fund” set aside to address “a significant regional, state, or national benefit, cost, or contribution” regarding bodies of water “impaired by PCBs through stormwater and/or dry weather runoff.” A special master has been appointed to receive and evaluate applications to this fund. Cities seeking to apply to the Special Needs Fund must do so within one year and 14 days of the date the Monitoring Fund checks were mailed.

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