Malibu Toxic Schools Case Clears Hurdle for Trial
Court Rejects School District Attempt to End PCB Contamination Lawsuit
Los Angeles — A U.S. District Court judge rejected a motion to halt a lawsuit brought by Malibu public school parents and teachers to force removal of cancer-causing chemicals from elementary, middle and high school campuses. The trial in the citizen’s suit is scheduled for May 17th.
The lawsuit, brought by America Unites for Kids, on behalf of parents, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) representing teachers, seeks no monetary damages, only a court order compelling the school district to remove all hazardous PCBs from Malibu public schools. PCBs, which were banned by Congress and cause a host of deadly diseases and developmental disorders, were commonly used in construction materials when Malibu’s schools were built, and have been found in window and door caulking in Malibu classrooms, among other areas.
In today’s ruling, District Court Judge Percy Anderson found:
“[T]he District’s own testing has shown PCBs in excess of 50 ppm in multiple rooms in six different buildings on the Malibu Campus, 70% of the rooms tested by the District contained PCBs in excess of 50 ppm [parts-per-million], 28 out of 32 samples taken by the district contained PCBs above 50 ppm, with most above 100,000 ppm, many of the buildings on the Malibu Campus were built prior to 1979, and caulk and other materials containing PBCs were used in schools built from the 1950s through the 1970s.”
“We are excited to go to trial where evidence, sworn testimony and real research will reveal the truth — that Malibu public school classrooms are laden with illegal levels of cancer causing chemicals that must be removed,” said Jennifer deNicola, a Malibu High School parent who heads America Unites for Kids. It would be cheaper and safer for the district to simply remove the PCBs. Parents, students, teachers and taxpayers should be outraged. The district should end its wasteful cover-up campaign and focus its resources on protecting making our public schools safe.”
The court also found evidence, from maintenance personnel affidavits, that the district was not implementing promised “Best Management Practices” supposedly designed to reduce levels of toxic exposure in classrooms.
“We hope this ruling convinces the district to end its scorched earth legal approach and embrace a solution that puts the health of students, teachers and staff in the forefront,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that the overwhelming percentage of the district’s own test results show illegal levels of PCBs. “The district’s legal bills already dwarf what it would have cost to clean up all three campuses – and we haven’t even gone to trial yet.”