Dioxin lawsuit against Dow Chemical back in court in June, retired Saginaw County judge to clarify ruling
 Published: Friday, May 27, 2011, 1:30 PM Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011, 1:42 PM
 By Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News T

SAGINAW — A retired Saginaw County judge will clarify a ruling next week that gives class-action status to a dioxin-related lawsuit against Midland-based Dow Chemical Co.

More than 150 Saginaw County homeowners along the Tittabawassee River filed a lawsuit in March 2003, claiming Dow contaminated their properties with dioxin and the pollution diminished property values downstream from its Midland plant.

In 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered retired Judge Leopold Borrello to revisit Henry vs. Dow Chemical, to further clarify his earlier ruling that granted class-action status for plaintiffs in the suit.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs want to boost the number of people involved in the suit to about 2,000 homeowners, according to Saginaw News files.

A hearing is set for June 9 for Borrello to issue supplemental opinion, court records show.

On May 6 in Saginaw County Circuit Court, the plaintiffs filed a motion for clarification of a June 22, 2010 opinion and for Borrello to grant the lawsuit class-action status. Attorneys for the plaintiffs were back in court last week, with the plaintiff’s attorneys again asking for that status.

Plaintiff attorney Bruce Trogan said class-action status will make the judicial process much more streamlined and economical.

Recent studies, such as the University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study, has not yet been subjected to the judicial process, he said.

Leopold Borrello Dow officials deferred comment until after the June 9 ruling.

Dioxin is a group of chemical byproducts from combustion. People exposed to the human carcinogen can delay motor skills and neurodevelopment in children and impact growth, metabolism and reproductive hormones. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 95 percent of Americans have dioxins in their blood.

Dow has acknowledged responsibility for the dioxins and furans released into the Tittabawassee River from the 1930s to the 1970s.

The chemical giant is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers. EPA officials said Dow will carry out work to remove contaminated soil from more than 260 properties along the rivers this summer.

Since 2003, studies provide an updated look on the chemical and its effect on people.

The University of Michigan study states dioxin can only be ingested through food, meaning soil contamination and dust is not harmful to people. Dr. David Garabrant, leader of the study, said Great Lakes Bay Region residents should follow state fish and game advisories.

Researchers in another study believe dioxin is the cause of breast cancer hotspots in Frankenmuth, Midland and St. Louis.

The EPA has not yet released its own dioxin assessment. In March, U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint, signed a letter along with 72 other Congressmen urging the EPA to release the report.

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2011/05/dioxin_lawsuit_against_dow_che.html


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