On January 21, 2014, objectors to a class action settlement over
contamination from Monsanto Agent Orange herbicide filed a
Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Unites States Supreme
Court. The Petition asked the Court to entertain the
objectors' request to reverse the West Virginia Supreme
Court's November 22, 2013 decision, which affirmed the trial
court's approval of a proposed class settlement as fair,
adequate and reasonable.
The case involves two separate plaintiff classes—a medical
monitoring class and a property class—each of which claimed
damages from exposure to the chemical dioxin produced by a Monsanto
plant in Nitro, West Virginia from 1949-1969. The trial court
certified both classes in 2008, but decertified the property class
in 2011 after excluding the class' sole expert on property
remediation damages. After decertification of the property
class, the medical monitoring class moved forward to trial.
At the end of jury selection, the parties reached a tentative
settlement and persuaded the trial court to conditionally vacate
the decertification of the property class (i.e., conditionally
recertify) for purposes of settlement.
The deal struck would have Monsanto pay $21 million toward a
fund for medical monitoring for between 2,000 and 5,000 members of
a projected class of 80,000 (plus the potential for another $63
million if certain benchmarks are triggered). The deal would
also have Monsanto pay for a separate $9 million fund for cleaning
and remediation of roughly 4,500 eligible homes out of the 12,000
owned by class members.
The objectors' primary argument in seeking review is that
the settlement would provide no benefits for up to 94% of the
medical monitoring class or for up to 62% of the property
remediation class, while still binding those class members to a
complete release. According to the objectors, this lack of
benefits to many class members effectively created sub classes of
beneficiary and non-beneficiary class members, which, in turn,
created representational conflicts of interest and violated the
non-beneficiaries' due process rights.
READ MORE: http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/291770/Class+Actions/NICS+and+HIPAA+Where+Mental+Health+Privacy+and+Gun+Control+Overlap