Belleville law firm added to plaintiff team in class action against Magnesium Elektron

Christina Stueve Apr. 12, 2012, 2:54am


The law firm of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer & Shevlin and Bernard J. Ysursa in Belleville entered their appearance Monday as co-counsel for defendant Magnesium Elektron North America in a case involving two Madison County residents fearing medical repercussions after magnesium allegedly was released in the air near their home.

John Williams and Monica Harris-Williams filed a putative class action lawsuit Nov. 4 in Madison County Circuit Court against Magnesium Elektron North America.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs say they were exposed to air pollution following a fire at Magnesium Elektron North America's plant in Madison on Oct. 4, 2010.

The fire broke out near a coil reheating furnace used to heat large magnesium coils.

The blaze expanded when a water line above the furnace ruptured.

Magnesium contacted molten magnesium, causing a chemical reaction with hydrogen gas and multiple explosions, the suit states.

The couple says they saw the plume of smoke from their home and smelled an unpleasant odor.

They blame the explosion for a thin film on their vehicle and home.

A federal investigation of the explosion's environmental effects is ongoing, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a complaint, alleging the plant violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, according to the Williams's complaint.

Because of the explosion, the plaintiffs say they fear adverse health effects and a lower property value.

They seek a judgment of $200,000 for each member of the class, plus injunctive relief requiring the plant to clean the contamination.

A plaintiff motion to compel was filed March 27, requesting the defendant to supply discovery responses in which there were no documents produced or identified from an earlier accident report and insurance policy.

Instead, the defendant answered 29 of the plaintiffs' requests for production, the motion states.

The plaintiffs claim they are not receiving fair treatment by the defendant's slowness and failure to comply with discovery, and the defendant should be compelled to answer discovery.

The preparation of the plaintiffs' case is taken advantage of by the defense not complying with discovery, the motion states.

The plaintiffs made a series of discovery requests followed by providing a more specific and targeted correspondence that should have allowed defendants to meaningfully respond, the motion reads.

A hearing will be held regarding the motion to compel on April 27.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification on Jan. 30 for anyone who is a resident or property owner in the legal boundaries of Madison or Venice, Ill.

Certification for the plaintiffs' claims for class-wide treatment is appropriate, because the plaintiffs can prove elements of their claims on a class-wide basis using the same evidence as would be used to prove those elements in individual actions alleging the same claims, the motion reads.

In its answer to the plaintiff's complaint filed Dec. 12, Magnesium Elektron North America says magnesium is a mineral the human body needs to regulate blood pressure, strengthen bones and keep the heart rhythm steady.

Magnesium oxide is found in many over-the-counter vitamins and supplements.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth is assigned to the case.

Eric D. Holland, Steven J. Stolze and Kevin D. Wilkins of Holland, Groves, Schneller and Stolze in St. Louis will be representing the plaintiffs.

Michael H. Wetmore and William J. Curtis from Husch Blackwell in St. Louis represent the defense.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1163.

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