Workers pick asparagus at Del Bosque Farms Inc. in Firebaugh, Calif., on April 6, 2015. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

California Chlorpyrifos Lawsuits Seek Remediation, Damages

Environment & Energy

California Chlorpyrifos Lawsuits Seek Remediation, Damages

Reproduced with permission. Published Jul. 12, 2021. Copyright 2021 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bloombergindustry.c...

By Emily C. Dooley
July 12, 2021, 3:52 PM

COURT: Cal. Super. Ct

COMPANY INFO: Corteva Inc., Dow Chemical Co. (Bloomberg Law Subscription)

Four California families on Monday sued Corteva, Inc., Dow Chemical, pesticide applicators, farms, and a winery, alleging that the use of chlorpyrifos caused birth defects, developmental issues, and other ill health effects in their children.

The cases, filed in superior courts in four Central Valley counties, mirror lawsuits from October linking the pesticide and its analog to autism, attention deficit disorder, and behavioral issues caused by exposure in agricultural fields and at home.

The latest cases also document a chlorpyrifos breakdown compound—known as 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridino or TCPy — found in dust and urine samples above what would normally be expected.

Residential use of chlorpyrifos was banned in 2000 and nearly all forms of commercial applications were banned in California beginning in January due to health concerns.

‘How Many Others?’

Dust and wipe samples were taken at 26 houses in the four counties, and the urine samples came from more than 50 occupants of those homes, said Stuart Calwell, an attorney at West Virginia firm Calwell Luce diTrapano, which represents the four families.

The discovery of TCPy in Kings, Madera, Tulare, and Fresno counties shows that the pesticide stays around, does not quickly dissipate in the environment, and contaminates more than just agricultural fields.

“We’re still finding the degradent, the TCPy, and that’s not a healthy thing to be exposed to,” Calwell said in a phone interview. “If one house in a community is contaminated how many other houses are contaminated?”

Results in the urine ranged from 0.78 to 3.41 nanograms per microliter. The average in 1999 and 2000 was 1.77 nanograms per microliter, Calwell’s office said.

“It should be going down, not up,” Calwell said.

Finding ‘Harbingers’

Monitoring for TCPy can help public health officials and doctors determine if a person has been exposed to higher levels of chlorpyrifos than the general population, according to the National Biomonitoring Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In one of the cases filed, a Kings County boy was born in 2009 with heart defects, dysmorphic features, and a clubfoot. He has since been diagnosed with autism, developmental and speech delays, poor memory, and spina bifida. Children in the other causes have similar cognitive and developmental issues.

All grew up in farming communities where millions of pounds of chlorpyrifos has been used over the decades. Remediation involves removing all contaminated fabrics in a home, like couches, drapes, and even stuffed animals.

Additional cases are expected due to potential exposure. “These cases are harbingers shall we say,” Calwell said.

Cause of Action: Strict products liability, including failure to warn and design defect; negligence, trespass, and nuisance.

Relief: Compensatory damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, past and future medical expenses, mental anguish by family, and decontamination of residences. Punitive damages for reckless and indifferent conduct.

Response: Corteva didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company was formerly Dow AgroSciences and Dow Chemical, which was the primary manufacturer of chlorpyrifos.

Attorneys: Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC and Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint P.C. are representing the plaintiffs.

The cases are: Castillo vs. Corteva, Cal. Super. Ct., not yet docketed, complaint filed 7/12/21; Mendoza vs. Corteva, Cal. Super. Ct., not yet docketed, complaint filed 7/12/21; Miranda-Salgado vs. Corteva, Cal. Super. Ct., not yet docketed, complaint filed 7/12/21; and Montano vs. Corteva, Cal. Super. Ct., not yet docketed, complaint filed 7/12/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily C. Dooley at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chuck McCutcheon at [email protected]; Rebecca Baker at [email protected]

Related Articles
Dozens of Chlorpyrifos Lawsuits Coming Over Children’s Health

Oct. 29, 2020, 3:01AM

Parents Sue Chlorpyrifos Makers Corteva, Dow Over Child’s Autism
Oct. 28, 2020, 1:07PM

Law Firms
Bonnett Fairbourn Friedman & Balint

DowDuPont Inc


  • trespass to property
  • strict liability
  • negligence
  • nuisance
  • chemical product safety
  • public health
  • pesticides
  • punitive damages
  • environmental remediation
  • design defects
  • physicians

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