"It’s a story of two companies that dumped massive quantities of toxic waste in the middle of a city, let it remain there for decades, delayed cleanups and put so many lives at risk,” said Howard Janet, of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC
Newark, NJ (PRWEB) March 4, 2011
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a class action lawsuit seeking cancer screening and compensation for Jersey City residents who may have been exposed to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium may move forward, attorneys involved in the case have announced.
Judge Susan D. Wigenton, in an opinion released Tuesday, denied a motion by Honeywell International, Inc., to dismiss the class action complaint. She ruled against the company on six of seven counts contained in the lawsuit, the opinion shows.
“This is an important victory for the citizens of Jersey City. They are now one giant step closer to telling their story to a jury. It’s a story of large companies putting profits over people in the worst way. It’s a story of two companies that dumped massive quantities of toxic waste in the middle of a city, let it remain there for decades, delayed cleanups and put so many lives at risk,” said Howard Janet, of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC, one of the attorneys representing residents.
The class action lawsuit was filed May 17, in New Jersey State Court, Hudson County, claiming Honeywell and PPG Industries dumped and failed to clean up hexavalent chromium waste at sites across Jersey City beginning in the early 1900s. The defendants removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, where it now resides.
A major federal study released in 2008, showed some residents living closest to the waste sites had up to a 17% higher rate of lung cancer than people residing farther away.
The suit demands that defendants pay for periodic medical screenings for the early detection of cancer in exposed populations and pay damages to landowners whose properties have been devalued. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages for defendants’ knowing and deliberate conduct in disposing and failing to properly remediate hexavalent chromium contamination in Jersey City.
“Our goal now is to move this case to trial quickly and to get relief for the residents of Jersey City,” said Steven German, of German Rubenstein, LLP, another attorney for the residents.
“This is a major victory for environmental justice,” said Allan Kanner, of Kanner & Whitely, also an attorney for the residents.
According to the lawsuit, defendants disposed of more than one million tons of chromium in Jersey City beginning in the early 1900s. The waste, referred to as chrome ore processing residue, or COPR, is a by-product of defendants’ Jersey City chromium chemical production operations of the last century, and much of it remains today, according to the suit.
The lawsuit seeks certification of a proposed medical monitoring class for individuals who lived within 500 feet of a COPR waste site for at least six months. Class status is also being sought for a proposed property damage class which includes all properties within one-quarter mile of any chromium site. The suit seeks compensation for devaluation and other property damages resulting from proximity to these toxic waste sites. A map showing the location of the sites can be found here
“These companies spread more than a million tons of toxic waste across a densely populated city and allowed it to remain there for years. We’re looking forward to presenting this case to a jury,” said Ester Berezofsky, of Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, LLC.
The civil action no. is 2:10-cv-03345, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.The case is being litigated jointly by the law firms of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC; German Rubenstein, LLP; Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, LLC; and Kanner & Whiteley, LLC.