Judge denies delay of Dow lawsuit


Dow Chemical Co. can appeal all it wants, but it won't stop a class-action lawsuit from going forward, a Saginaw County judge has ruled.

Chief Circuit Judge Leopold P. Borrello flatly refused Dow's request to delay a dioxin-related lawsuit until the company has taken its case before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

"If a delay is granted in this case, it is not going to come from this court," Borrello said. "You'll have to get it somewhere else."

Borrello decided on Oct. 21 that a class-action lawsuit against Dow can proceed on claims that historic dioxin releases have devalued riverside properties.

Dow officials believe the case was wrongly decided. They intend to file an appeal Monday.

In the meantime, the opposition is preparing for a mass mailing that will reach about 2,000 property owners now included in the lawsuit. The letters likely will go out this month, attorneys say.

"This case has been pending for two years and eight months," attorney Bruce F. Trogan said. "It needs to go forward."

Dow attorneys argued that it makes no sense to proceed when the case could change course or even sink with a Court of Appeals ruling.

"While the judge feels it is important to move forward, it is also important to do things correctly," said spokesman Scot Wheeler. "We believe this issue needs to be looked at because it is quite a bit different if you are looking at 2,000 versus a couple hundred plaintiffs."

Borrello's decision came as no surprise to either party. Even Dow officials said they expected a denial from the judge.

But Dow officials said they had to ask. Only then could the chemical giant ask the Court of Appeals to stop the litigation.

Borrello said the case already has dragged on too long.

"I believe in the old adage that says, 'Justice delayed is justice denied,"' he said. "When I think of the last two and a half years, I think it's time for both parties to move forward." v

Jeremiah Stettler is a staff writer at the Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9685.

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