Stack to reconsider Hartford vapor case

Steve Korris Jun. 2, 2006, 1:08am

Circuit Judge Dan Stack

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack will reconsider an order he signed last year against former owners of the Premcor refinery in a proposed class action suit.

In May he granted a motion of Apex Oil and Sinclair Oil to take a second look at his Sept. 26 order denying their motion to dismiss.

He held then that the statute of limitations did not protect Apex and Sinclair from claims over injuries that refinery vapors caused.

Apex and Sinclair moved to reconsider. Stack heard arguments in October.

Attorneys for proposed class representative Katherine Sparks told Stack that every time vapors entered homes, the residents suffered a new injury.

Apex attorney Bill Knapp said they suffered an old injury.

He said Apex disposed of all interest in the refinery in 1988. He said Apex could not have engaged in tortuous conduct at the site after 1988.

He said that in the case of a Danville landfill, a court dismissed a private firm that had formerly operated the landfill.

Plaintiff attorney Teresa Woody said as long as a nuisance continues, the party who created it is responsible.

"There are four million gallons of gasoline under Hartford," she said. "It comes up through these people's floors of their homes."

She said pollution at Danville's landfill did not leach into groundwater every year.

She said Apex installed faulty vapor wells.

Knapp said he could establish that it was not Apex's system.

Plaintiff attorney Kevin Davidson said vapors invaded homes and retreated.

Knapp said, "That is a continuing effect. How can that be a new tortuous act for Apex when Apex has been off the property for 17 years?"

Woody said vapors reached explosive levels and residents had to evacuate. She said, "That is a new tort."

Stack said, "It is new water and old gas."

Woody said, "It is coming up new for these people."

Stack said a statute of limitations sometimes appears unjust. He said, "Sometimes people do not get a remedy because they waited too long."

It took Stack seven months to decide to reconsider. Now he starts reconsidering.

More News