Jury awards $200,000 in contamination case

Saturday, March 22, 2003

GADSDEN, Ala. -- A jury awarded $200,000 to a woman whose property was contaminated by PCBs from a chemical plant.

Solutia Inc. and its corporate predecessor, Monsanto Co., were ordered Thursday to pay Patricia Chupp $99,925 to clean up her land, and $100,000 for her mental anguish. Chupp had sought $800,000.

In a statement, St. Louis-based Solutia criticized the cleanup amount, saying it had already agreed to clean up properties in the community.

Chupp is one of about 3,500 plaintiffs who sued Solutia and Monsanto in state court, alleging the companies had produced PCBs at a factory in Anniston that increased residents' health risks and devalued property. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were commonly used as an electrical insulator.

The companies were found liable in February 2002 for property damage and emotional distress claims, but awards were not decided.

Chupp was the first of 900 plaintiffs whose property claims are being decided by jurors. Deliberations were expected to begin Friday on the three more claims.

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