Between 3,000 and 5,000 people are estimated to be eligible for the medical tests.
The initial health screening will include blood tests and a standard health history report. Also, samples will be taken to determine how much dioxin participants have in their blood. Other blood tests will be used to determine blood sugar, cholesterol and blood count, which can provide early detection of cancer and other diseases.
These tests would then be performed every five years. If 25 percent or more of the participants in the program are found to have more than certain "background" levels of dioxin in their blood, increased frequency of the medical tests kicks in, from every five years to every two years, which Monsanto has agreed to provide up to $63 million in additional funding for, according to court documents.
To be eligible, you must have at least worked full-time, gone to school full-time or lived in the geographic area covered between Jan. 1, 1948, and Sept. 3, 2010. You must also fall within one of a certain set of criteria -- based on your age and the time period when you lived, worked or went to school in Nitro -- that are spelled out in the settlement. Former employees of Monsanto Co. are not eligible to participate in medical monitoring.
Under the settlement, residents have retained their right to file personal injury suits against Monsanto if medical tests turn up illnesses potentially related to dioxin exposure. Separately from the class-action settlement, nearly 200 personal-injury cases Calwell's firm had pending against Monsanto have been settled. Details of those settlements have not been disclosed.
Court documents appear to show that residents must sign up separately for the medical monitoring and property cleanup settlements.
Monsanto will spend $3 million per year for three years, or a total of $9 million to provide cleaning services meant to remove dioxin from 4,500 homes in the settlement area.
The cleanups include vacuuming carpets, rugs and accessible horizontal surfaces with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuum, wet cleaning floors, floor vents, tops of doors and window moldings, window mullions, interior window sills, window troughs, ceiling fans and light fixtures and radiators.
The cleanup targets easily accessible areas in living spaces, and does not include attics, garages, utility rooms, outbuildings, utility sheds, closets, internal shelving and drawers in furniture or cabinets. Residents will be responsible for moving any objects sitting on top of accessible surfaces prior to cleaning, according to court documents.
The property cleanup portion of the settlement was unforeseen after Judges O.C. Spaulding and Derek Swope issued rulings last year that threw out that part of the case. Even though the decertification of the property class had been appealed, a Supreme Court decision probably wouldn't have happened anytime soon.
Before an agreement in a class-action lawsuit is finalized, the members of the class must be notified of the proposed settlement and given a chance to object to its terms. According to court filings, the class must be notified by April 5.
A fairness hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. June 18, where expert testimony must be presented to prove the settlement is appropriate. It appears that only people who have signed up will be allowed to speak for or against the settlement. The deadline to request to speak is June 7.
Class members can object to the settlement by writing to the circuit clerk in Putnam County, 3389 Winfield Rd., Winfield, W.Va. 25213. Objections must include the name of the case, Bibb v. Monsanto, No. 04-C-465, and include their name, address, telephone number and signature of the class members, and state "facts to support your claim that you are a member of the" class and the reasons for the objection.
Copies of the settlement documents, including a motion seeking their preliminary approval, were originally sealed by Swope. After they were unsealed, Putnam Circuit Clerk Ronnie Matthews initially declined to provide electronic copies of the documents at a reasonable cost until the Gazette filed a formal FOIA request for the records.Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723. Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com">kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.