- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. (AP) - A jury rejected lawsuits by five people who blamed a PCBs factory for illnesses in the east Alabama city of Anniston, and an attorney for the company said Wednesday it plans to fight claims from 3,000 others in court.

Augusta Dowd, who represented Pharmacia Corp. in the state court trial, said the company intends to get each of the remaining claims before a jury.

“There’s just no credible science linking the illnesses to PCB exposure from the Anniston plant,” she said.

The verdict, returned late Tuesday, was a bad sign for about 3,000 people who filed similar lawsuits that are awaiting trial. But plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Roden said the cases would move forward despite the ruling.

“It’ll be another day in court, a different jury, some different diseases,” he said.

The Jefferson County jury found in favor of Pharmacia, a corporate relative of Monsanto Co., which made the electrical insulator polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in Anniston.

Five people ranging in age from 67 to 89 claimed they got sick because of exposure to PCBs that were released by the factory into streams and surrounding land. They complained of illnesses including diabetes and osteoarthritis.

The company said such problems are common as people get older.

The pending lawsuits were filed by people who were left out of two large cases that were settled in 2003. About 21,600 people split $600 million in those cases, and another $100 million went to research, a health clinic and community programs.

Dowd said a judge hasn’t set a date for the next lawsuits, but a trial could begin in August.

Monsanto produced PCBs at its Anniston plant from 1929 to 1971. Millions of pounds of PCBs settled in the yards of nearby homes, and a massive cleanup program purchased some property and removed traces of the chemical from area streams and property.

PCBs were banned by the government in 1979. The government says the chemical likely causes cancer, and studies have linked PCBs to a variety of health problems.

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