$8.1 mil settlement for Attica families

$8.1 mil settlement for Attica families

Source:  http://www.wlfi.com, May 24, 2011
By: Tiffanie Dismore

Attorneys are calling a Kraft Global Foods settlement one of the first successful environmental lawsuits of its kind.

Those involved in the class action lawsuit against a multi-billion dollar Kraft are comparing it to a biblical story.

“It was back and forth negotiations like David and Goliath,” said Ben Bowles. He and his wife were one of the 124 families to file a class-action lawsuit against Kraft.

The lawsuit filed against Kraft stated cancer-causing chemicals were released into the groundwater from the RMC factory off Summit Street more than 50 years ago, which then became vapors which entered homes.

“You can’t say, anymore, that you have no legal responsibility to clean up,” said attorney Shawn Collins. “You can’t say that anymore, if you want to settle with us and Kraft said ‘Okay.'”

Collins said Kraft will pay the families $8.1 million, or about $40,000 each, depending on their property value. Kraft will also clean the groundwater and install mitigation systems in the affected homes.

“Since we have won… Oh it’s just wonderful. It made us so happy,” said resident Jill Walker.

“None of us expected to become wealthy. That was not the point,” said Mary Bowles, who was one of the first to look into filing a lawsuit. “The point was to be safe. Be healthy. Take care of children.”

As part of the clean up process, Kraft Foods is putting a slurry wall in near the property. Construction has already begun. It will help keep the contaminated water from moving down into homes.

“Kraft is spending millions and millions of dollars doing it and they are going to continue spending millions and millions of dollars doing it,” said attorney Norm Berger.

The families’ attorneys said the settlement is a major victory.

“Kraft stepped up to the plate and recognized its responsibility,” Collins said.

The attorneys said this lawsuit has nothing to do with any health issues due to the possible exposure to any contaminants. Those claims would be a separate lawsuit. They are investigating some of those claims now.

The settlement also states Kraft will meet whatever requests the Environmental Protection Agency asks of them.

Kraft Foods Corporate Affairs issued the following statement to NewsChannel 18:

“We are pleased with the outcome of the settlement hearing and that the judge found the proposal to be fair.

“Although Kraft Foods never owned or operated the Radio Materials Corporate (RMC) site and did not contribute to the conditions, we are committed to continuing the remediation efforts. We are working diligently with U.S. EPA, the city of Attica and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to complete the appropriate environmental investigations and clean-up activities at, and near, the RMC site.”

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