Plaintiffs: Dow defense makes no sense

Kathie Marchlewski , Midland Daily News


"Dow’s arguments make no sense." That’s the opinion of attorneys for the 164 residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain suing the company over dioxin contamination on their property.

In a response to Dow’s defense of the class action suit looming since last March, plaintiffs’ attorneys say the matter of certification is a simple one: More than 2,000 owners of property in the flood plain have the same dilemma – they have been notified by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that dioxin, a toxic chemical manufacturing byproduct, is in their yards. Notices state care should be taken to limit exposure, and that the contaminant is linked to cancers, immune system alterations and reproductive problems.

The suit seeks the value of property, which plaintiffs say is worthless because of the dioxin, and asks that Dow fund a trust that would be used for future monitoring of health jeopardized by exposure to the toxin.
Dow has argued in its defense against class certification that complaints aren’t common enough and that the proposed class of people that would become eligible to collect damages and medical monitoring funds is undefined.

Its attorneys argue that plaintiffs’ medical and work histories, along with lifestyle choices, would have to be examined individually to determine if potential exposure to dioxin would pose a significant health risk and add that properties have sold at and above asking prices and, therefore, cannot be labeled "worthless."

But according to plaintiffs, Dow’s defenses are frivolous. "Dow overstates and complicates, apparently hoping the court will not see through ... to what are straightforward claims based on a common set of facts and legal theories that are ideally suited for class action treatment," the brief states – the common issues predominate over individual differences.

The court’s job at this point of legal proceedings is not to decide the merits of the case. The validity of the compaint will be decided by a jury trial if the case is certified, or on a case-by-case basis if it’s not.
A hearing on class certification is scheduled for April 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Saginaw County Courthouse.

©Midland Daily News 2004

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.