Class Actions for Property Damage Due to the Dumping of Polluted Materials

Illicit dumping is the disposal of waste in an unpermitted area, often done to avoid the associated disposal costs or efforts. The adverse effects of dumping can be widespread and at times irreversible. Dumped chemicals seep into soil, groundwater and air, where they can be carried beyond the property on which the pollutants are dumped and into surrounding neighborhoods and residential properties. Here the toxic substances can persist for generations, causing irreparable injury to human health, property and the environment.

Dumping is believed to cause a broad range of health and medical problems. PCBs, for example, are toxic chemicals that were once widely used for a variety of industrial purposes and were often dumped or “spilled” onto swaths of land or into streams and rivers before the chemicals were banned in 1978. The resulting contamination has been tied to skin conditions, liver damage and even cancer among residents of contaminated areas. Similarly, trichloroethene (TCE) is a widely used chemical compound largely believed to be carcinogenic that has contaminated water in states across the country in recent decades.

Contamination by dumping can also wreak havoc on real property by reducing its value. Contaminants pollute the air and taint water supply. Residential and commercial real estate found to be contaminated with harmful pollutants are often left worth little or nothing, simply because no one wants to live or work on the property. Lawsuits claiming property damage resulting from the dumping of polluted materials are often filed as class actions. In a class action, one or more persons act on behalf of a large group of people to sue a person, corporation or legal entity. By combining a large group of similar claims into one lawsuit, a class action can be an efficient way of bringing a complex claim while lowering the costs of litigation for individual class members.

In 2003, for example, the plaintiffs in a class action claiming that chemical companies Monsanto, Solutia and Pfizer polluted creeks and landfills in Anniston, Alabama with PCBs reached a reported $300 million settlement to cover physical and property damage. More recently, Kraft Foods Global, Inc. settled a class action lawsuit concerning air, soil and groundwater contamination in Attica, Indiana for $8.1 million. The latter action was filed on behalf of over 100 families who live in an area contaminated by the dumping of several known and suspected human carcinogens - vinyl chloride, TCE and tetrachloroethene (PCE) - at a nearby manufacturing facility formerly owned and operated by Kraft. In addition to offering plaintiffs damages for their lost property values, the settlement terms also require Kraft to clean up the contamination.

The class action attorneys at DiTommaso represent plaintiffs in dumping and contamination class action litigation at state and federal levels. These cases typically involve complex issues of liability, causation and damages, which our Illinois trial lawyers have experience in handling.

We are pleased to assist clients throughout the Chicagoland area, including Naperville, Wheaton, Vernon Hills and many other cities throughout Illinois as well as in Indiana and Wisconsin. To speak with an Illinois dumping and contamination lawyer at our firm, contact our law office in Oakbrook Terrace or Chicago, Illinois by calling (630) 333-0000 or (630) 333-0000. You may also contact us by e-mail.