Andrea Dearden Oct. 25, 2012, 10:07am

The family of an East St. Louis woman says years of exposure to toxic chemicals from a local paint pigment plant is to blame for her death.

Antwon D. Robinson, individually and as special administrator of the estate of Christine V. Robinson, filed a lawsuit Oct. 2 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Pfizer Inc., doing business as Pfizer Pigments, and Elementis Pigments Inc., formerly known as Harcros Pigments Inc., Illinois Power Company, doing business as Ameren IP, and Rogers Cartage Company are also named as defendants.

According to the complaint, Christine Robinson lived in an apartment on Lynch Avenue, near Pfizer's paint pigment plant in East St. Louis, from 1979 to 1986. The family claims during those years she was exposed to several toxic chemicals, including lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel and other metals that were released from the plant.

Antwon Robinson also says Illinois Power Company owned and operated a power plant that was located right next to Pfizer's pigment plant from 1922 to 1965. Robinson claims the company knowingly released toxic chemicals and carcinogens into the air, affecting adjacent neighborhoods during those years of operation.

Rogers Cartage Company is a chemical transportation business and allegedly moved toxic materials to a disposal site known as the Monsanto Superfund Site, located within five miles of Christine Robinson's apartment in East St. Louis.

Antwon Robinson alleges this prolonged exposure caused Christine to develop cancer, which led to her death in November 2011.

Pfizer owned the pigment plant from the 1940s until 1990 when it was sold to Elementis, according to the lawsuit. Elementis continues to operate the plant today.

The family accuses Pfizer, Elementis, Illinois Power and Rogers Cartage of negligence for failing to allowing toxic chemicals to be exposed to the soil, air and drinking water of the East St. Louis neighborhood and for failing to clean up the substances once they were released. They are suing the defendants for wrongful death and ask for more than $660,000 in damages for medical and funeral expenses plus court costs.

Attorney Deborah A. Hawkins of Edwardsville represents the Robinson family. They ask for a jury trial.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-524

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