Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of PCB Claims Against Capes Sokol Clients

PCB, Monsanto, Adam Miller


Adam Miller and Capes Sokol attorneys helped secure the dismissal of claims brought by a school district in Massachusetts seeking to hold Defendants Monsanto Company, Pharmacia Corp., and Solutia, Inc. liable for the presence of PCBs that the Town of Westport claimed required a school building to be condemned.  The order granting summary judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissing the case was affirmed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in an opinion issued on December 8, 2017.


The Town of Westport brought its claims against Defendants as a result of the presence of PCBs found to have been used in sealant materials used in the 1969 construction of the Westport Middle School.  Both the trial court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Defendants, holding that the mere presence of PCBs in a building does not constitute damage to property unless the School Board could demonstrate that the presence of PCBs constituted a health hazard.

However, the Town of Westport failed to supply the court with any evidence that when the PCBs were incorporated into the sealant material it was foreseeable that PCBs could be emitted from sealants at harmful levels. As the First Circuit observed, “The risk that PCB-containing caulk would cause adverse health effects could not have been ‘reasonably foreseeable’ in 1969 given that the existence of such a risk  remains unverified by scientific studies today.” (Slip op. at 16).

Adam and Capes Sokol have a national reputation in the defense of corporations in product liability, toxic tort and class actions.  Over the years, Adam has successfully defended manufacturers of chemicals, industrial equipment, and consumer products in high-stakes, complex cases involving serious injury or death.

In 2016, Adam’s trial victory for Pharmacia Corporation (formerly Monsanto Company) in Dauber v. Monsanto was named among Courtroom View Network’s 2016 list of Top 10 Defense Verdicts, occupying the number 2 slot. That case involved the association between PCB exposures and plaintiffs’ Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was tried in Los Angeles County, California state court.  He has tried numerous cases involving PCBs and other chemicals involving claims related to alleged health endpoints and claims of property damage.


pcb litigationAdam E. Miller is a veteran products liability attorney who has successfully represented national and regional companies, manufacturers, suppliers and industrial users in complex mass tort and class action product liability litigation involving consumer and commercial products.

For more information about Adam, please visit his profile.


Carolyn A. Mulligan is a products liability defense paralegal with an over 20 years of experience in assisting attorneys with the defense of product liability, toxic tort and environmental litigation in state and federal courts. She has been involved in cases alleging adverse health effects and environmental impacts from various consumer and commercial chemicals.

For more information about Carolyn, please visit her profile.


Barbara J. McKenzie is a Scientific Literature Specialist with over 30 years of experience providing comprehensive technical support for toxic tort and environmental litigation. She acquires, analyses, and disseminates pertinent chemical, environmental, and medical information to support our legal teams.

For more information about Barb, visit her profile.


Christine T. Anderson, Scientific Literature Professional in the Litigation group, assists in providing current and fundamental scientific literature to attorneys and other essential personnel. Christine has contributed to litigation support in depositions and trial proceedings in cases involving toxic tort and environmental litigation for more than 25 years.

For more information about Christine, visit her profile.

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