A circuit judge has approved a class-action lawsuit settlement first proposed about a year ago in connection with production at a former chemical plant in Kanawha County.
Judge Derek Swope signed off on the Monsanto settlement with an order he issued Friday. The class action lawsuit was filed by current and former Nitro residents in 2004. It alleged dioxin that resulted from the production of Agent Orange endangered the health of residents and damaged their homes.
Swope called the settlement “fair and reasonable” in his order.
Monsanto will now spend $93 million to pay for ongoing medical monitoring for the plaintiffs and to clean-up about 4,500 residences. Residents with medical problems shown by the monitoring would be allowed to file personal-injury lawsuits.
Former Nitro Mayor Rusty Casto was in office when the lawsuit was filed in 2004. He says those taking part in the lawsuit “wanted to be safe not sorry.” But Casto says in many ways the lawsuit has been a double-edged sword in the community.
“Monsanto provided good-paying jobs with good benefits, retirement, health insurance, I wish they were back,” Casto said. “But back in those days you didn’t worry so much about the chemicals like you do today.”
Monsanto operated its plant in Nitro from 1929 to 1995.