Army poisoned Black people in '50s claims new lawsuit

Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology company and others in the US conspired with an army experiment to secretly poison people with toxic chemicals in a giant segregated housing complex in the 1950s, according to a class action personal injury lawsuit.

Courthouse News reports that lead claimant Benjamin Phillips Sr. alleges that defendants Monsanto, Parsons Government Services and SRI International participated in a study beginning in 1953 that lasted into the 1960s.

Phillips claims the study, the Involuntary Chemical Study on PI Residents or ICS, was conducted around the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis.

The lawsuit states that "defendants, along with other known conspirators such as the United States army and unknown conspirators caused to be sprayed upon the residents and structures of PI chemicals, such as cadmium, including potentially radioactive cadmium, with the knowledge or consent of those resident, the administrators of PI or city or other government officials.”

Phillips, who lived at Pruitt-Igoe at the time, claims the chemicals caused emotional psychological trauma and harm as well as personal injury.

He seeks actual and punitive damages for public nuisance, liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery.

The purpose of the study remains unknown but the 33 buildings in the housing complex were demolished in the 1970s, after the place became famous for its poverty, crime and segregation.