Publication Date 01/11/2011
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
Doctors will monitor the health of the children who inhaled mercury vapors in their Gloucester County day-care center, a judge ruled Tuesday.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge James E. Rafferty ordered the state, county and Franklin Township, as well as the owners of Kiddie Kollege, to contribute to a $1.5 million fund that will pay for periodic neuropsychological testing.
Rafferty’s decision, announced in a packed Woodbury courtroom, ends four years of litigation over who was to blame for exposing the children to elevated levels of mercury at Kiddie Kollege in Franklinville between February 2004 and July 2006.
Rafferty said he will appoint a “special master” to determine who is eligible for testing; the fund could be expanded, the judge said, if it is deemed necessary.
The judge decided testing of adults who worked or visited the day-care center was unnecessary.
The discovery that the center had opened in a former thermometer factory made national headlines and triggered environmental and child care reforms.
Rafferty found the government agencies that approved the day-care negligent, saying they were aware the building was contaminated and failed to prevent the children’s exposure due to bureaucratic missteps. The vapors can cause brain and kidney dysfunction, according to medical experts.
The judge also blamed Jim Sullivan 3d and his family businesses, which acquired the building in a tax foreclosure and leased it to the day-care without a proper clean up.
The defendants argued the children had no symptoms and that there was no evidence mercury can cause latent conditions.