Illinois Power, Pfizer defendants in toxic tort claim

Ann Knef Feb. 6, 2007, 10:54am

A woman who lived in East St. Louis for six years in the 1970s claims her exposure to heavy metals from a paint pigment plant has caused her to develop lupus, breast cancer, immune deficiencies and asthma.

In a suit filed Feb. 6 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Janette Weatherall of Springfield claims several high profile defendants including Pfizer Inc., Illinois Power Co. and Rogers Cartage Co., are responsible.

Weatherall claims Pfizer Pigments, later acquired by Elementis Pigments, operated a manufacturing plant at 2001 Lynch Ave. from the 1940s until 1990.

Seeking in excess of $300,000 in damages, Weatherall claims Pfizer and Elementis are negligent for not confining carcinogens and toxic materials -- lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel, for instance -- within the plant's premises.

She resided at 2 Audubon Terrace, adjacent to the plant, from 1971 to 1977.

Among other things, Weatherall also claims the manufacturers failed to warn her that she was living around known carcinogens and of the adverse health effects of such exposure; failed to advise its employees to use safety equipment to reduce the release of toxic materials and failed to clean up the toxic substances once they were released into the neighborhood.

Weatherall is represented by Ted Gianaris and M. Cody Favilla of SimmonsCooper in East Alton and Gregory L. Shevlin of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer & Shevlin in Belleville.

She alleges the defendants' conduct was willful and wanton.

Illinois Power, doing business as AmerenIP, allegedly previously released toxic materials and known carcinogens into her neighborhood several years before Weatherall lived there.

According to the complaint, Illinois Power operated a power plant at Lynch Avenue and 20th Street from 1922 until 1965.

"Plaintiff was unaware and had no reasonable way to know of her exposure or realize the risks of being exposed to these toxic materials," the complaint states. "Defendant should have anticipated that plaintiff did not know and would not discover or realize the risks of being exposed to the toxic materials."

The complaint does not specify the toxic materials released by Illinois Power.

"Defendant knew, or with the use of ordinary care should have known it was releasing these toxic materials into the neighborhood but made a calculated business decision to continue exposing the neighborhood rather than changing its conduct and protecting the residents from these toxins," the complaint states.

Roger Cartage Co., a chemical transportation company, is a "known polluter in the East St. Louis area, specifically at the Monsanto Superfund Site," Weatherall claims.

She claims she was exposed to toxic materials and known carcinogens transported and disposed of by Rogers Cartage.

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