Dioxin records decision due from judge in 10 days

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

JEREMIAH STETTLER
THE SAGINAW NEWS

A Saginaw County judge will decide in 10 days whether residents suing Dow Chemical Co. over dioxin contamination must release their medical and employment records.

Attorney Jan P. Helder, who represents the residents, told Chief Circuit Judge Leopold P. Borrello on Tuesday that the chemical giant has no business looking at the documents.

Dow's request is too broad and oversteps residents' privacy rights, he said.

"This is more than just a fishing expedition," he said. "This is throwing a spear into the ocean and hoping to catch a fish."

Dow attorneys, however, said they are entitled to the records.

Chicago-based attorney Douglas J. Kurtenbach said Dow has the right to know whether the residents are "in the same boat" in terms of dioxin exposure and health conditions.

"Would it be fair to Dow to have a jury decide on the case without giving us the chance to discover (records) on all of them?" Kurtenbach asked.

He said judges have allowed attorneys to see medical records in other lawsuits.

The records dispute flared in early October when Dow attorneys said Helder had not turned over documents pertaining to the lawsuit, particularly those about residents with medical problems.

Kurtenbach said Tuesday he had received only "three pieces of paper" since the attorneys agreed to share documents in June.

The judge also postponed until Tuesday, Jan. 27, a hearing on whether to grant class-action status to nearly 300 residents along the Tittabawassee River. t

 

2003 Saginaw News.


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