More claims filed over chemical exposure in Sauget

By Kelly Holleran | May 4, 2010

A second group of lawyers have filed two suits over the release of various hazardous substances near Sauget that have allegedly killed or caused nearby residents to develop cancer.

Richard L. Saville Jr., Ethan A. Flint, D. Todd Matthews and Andrew J. Balcer of Saville and Flint in Alton and Lon Walters and Christian DiMartino of The Walters Law Firm in Kansas City are representing two groups of people in separate lawsuits who claim they or their deceased relatives developed different forms of cancer after growing up near and playing in Dead Creek.

Barbara Hensler, Ann Kofron, Diana Voruz and Elizabeth Pennock filed a complaint April 21 in Madison County Circuit Court against Solutia, Pharmacia Corporation, Pfizer, Monsanto Products and Cerro Flow Products, alleging they or their deceased relatives were exposed to PCBs, dioxins, furans and other hazardous substances near their Sauget homes.

Susan Johns and Janet Wright filed a lawsuit April 28 in Madison County Circuit against the same companies, claiming they developed breast cancer after growing up and playing in the same creek.

Plaintiffs in both suits claim the defending companies operated and controlled a facility at 500 Monsanto Ave., which has been producing PCBs and other chemicals since it started operations in 1917. Meanwhile, defendant Cerro recycled copper, including scrapped transformers containing PCBs, the suit states.

As a result of the defending companies' production of these products, PCBs, dioxins and furans were leaked, spilled, dumped and discharged either directly onto or migrated into the ground, Dead Creek and into surface and ground water, the complaint says.

In turn, the chemicals caused the plaintiffs or their deceased relatives to develop cancer.

Pennock, Johns and Wright claim that because of their exposure to the chemicals, they suffered severe pain and mental anguish, incurred medical costs and lost wages. The remaining plaintiffs claim their relatives suffered great physical pain, mental anguish and physical disability; incurred medical costs; and lost wages before their deaths. After their relatives' deaths, the plaintiffs lost their family member's services, society, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, support, love and affection and incurred funeral costs, according to the complaint.

"Defendants have known for many years that PCBs, dioxins, furans and other chemicals discharged into the environment create a health hazard," the suits states. "Therefore, Defendants' conduct was willful, wanton and performed with careless disregard for the safety of Plaintiffs and others."

In their suits, all plaintiffs allege negligence, strict liability, battery, negligence per se, nuisance and willful and wanton misconduct. In addition, the April 21 lawsuit alleges wrongful death.

Plaintiffs in the April 21 suit seek a judgment of more than $300,000, punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Plaintiffs in the April 28 suit seek punitive damages, a judgment of more than $250,000, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Madison County Circuit Court case numbers: 10-L-444, 10-L-467.

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