On behalf of 26
residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain, we have sued The Dow Chemical Company
for contaminating the river with dangerous amounts of dioxin. The lawsuit seeks damages
for lost property value and seeks establishment of a medical monitoring trust fund for
Also, the lawsuit is a
class action, which as a result seeks relief for all residents on the flood plain whether
or not they participate directly in the suit.
Stueve Siegel Hanson Woody
Click here for a detailed chronological review
of court activity related to this case.
Class Action status granted by Saginaw County Circuit Court October 21,
2005 pending appeal by Dow. Dow has 30 days to file the appeal.
Michigan Supreme Court denies Medical Monitoring portion of lawsuit on
July 13, 2005.
Lawsuit filed in Saginaw County Circuit Court March 25, 2003.
How many people have signed as plaintiff's in the Lawsuit?
The following comments on number of signed
plaintiffs are no longer relevant now that the case has been certified
as a Class Action (pending appeal) on October 21, 2005. The number of
plaintiffs could now be as high as 2000.
Note: The following are opinions and not legal
advice, always contact your attorney if you have any questions.
The exact number is changing almost daily, TRW does not
have access to the count and depends upon the Plaintiff's law firm to provide
updates. The initial lawsuit started with 26 plaintiff's. That number quickly
grew to over a hundred as the initial stages of court hearings began in the spring of
2003. Each time the plaintiff's lawyers filed an amendment to the suit providing a
revised plaintiff count, Dow protested. Dow indicated they would delay the
proceedings each time each time a plaintiff was added.
As stated in the original complaint, the plaintiff's are seeking Class Certification to
protect ALL flood plain residents. How many people will be in the Class when
certified? Estimates range from 1200 to over 3000. The court will decide the
final number. When determining whether a suit can be certified as a class, higher
numbers of signed plaintiffs are very useful in demonstrating to the Judge that the suit
has merit as a Class Action. However, they are not required to win class action
certification. The Judge uses the criteria of Michigan Law MCR 3.501 to determine if
the class is to be certified..
Dow's threat of additional delays led to the decision by
the plaintiff's attorneys to temporarily suspend amending the plaintiff count and leave it
at 179. 179 concerned individuals sends a clear message to the Judge as to to
seriousness of the charges being made against Dow.
On December 2, 2003, Plaintiff's decided to file a 3rd amended complaint to narrow the
scope of discovery preceding the Courts class action certification by
original 26 plaintiff's represent the class. The amendment also added 135 new
plaintiffs and dropped 4 for a new total of 310. See Court
Activity page for details.
For these reasons, you may see conflicting numbers in the
press or mentioned by Dow & TRW. As of December 2003, the actual
number of concerned citizens who have taken the steps to sign on as plaintiffs is
approximately 310. At any time, if the plaintiff's attorneys determine it is necessary,
they will file a simple motion in court and add all of the remaining signed
plaintiff's. Dow likes to use the 179 number because they think it implies a
"small" number of people have signed up as plaintiff's.
The Class Action status of the case will not be decided until February of 2004. During
this transition period, all 310 signed plaintiff's are protected from Dow lawyers, those
without signed agreements are not. All 310 will automatically become part of
the class action when it is certified. And all 310 will have individual lawsuits
filed on their behalf by the plaintiff's lawyers if the case is not certified. All 310 may
obtain free legal advice about medical or real-estate situations that might arise
concerning the case. All 310 have an attorney/client agreement providing the client
protection against any court or lawyer costs associated with the suit, the plaintiff
attorneys are responsible for all costs and will get nothing if the case is lost. The 310
plaintiff's will have to provide information to the court that is relevant to the
case. However the plaintiff's lawyers challenge (and
win) almost every Dow request for non-relevant information.
So why should you sign up now if you have not done so already?
It is extremely important to continue sending the message to the Courts that this is a
serious situation affecting an entire community. You also gain the benefits provided
to the current 310 plaintiff's mentioned above. Dow
intends to discover whatever they can about non-plaintiffs before the case is
certified as a class action and will use this information against non-plaintiff's them
when the trial starts. Those that have signed on as plaintiff's cannot be contacted
by Dow for anything unless their attorneys are monitoring the exchange.
Finally, anyone, including the current plaintiff's, can "opt out" (not
participate) at anytime up to the final settlement. Contact
the plaintiff law-firm for a copy of the agreement and sign up today.
03/18/04 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to 370+
12/15/03 308 residents now have signed
with plaintiff's law firm, 173 will represent case for Class Certification.
The 135 others will automatically be added as named plaintiff's after Class Certification
in February 2004.
12/02/03 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to 310
10/01/03 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to 300
09/07/03 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to 271
08/08/03 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to
05/30/03 The original 26 plaintiff's have grown to 142
03/25/03 26 plaintiff's file suit against Dow Chemical
Law firm contact information
For more information or
if you would like to participate as a client in the case, please contact:
Teresa Woody, lead
counsel, at (800) 714-0360 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trogan & Trogan,
local counsel, at (989) 781-2060, email email@example.com
You can also link to the
Stueve Siegel Hanson Woody web site and supply contact information, click here. Once completed,
they will contact you directly.
Law firm background
Visit the web sites of
the participating law firms by following the links below:
Trogan (no web site, contact at 989-781-2060)
Lawsuit Press Release
IMMEDIATE RELEASE ----March 25, 2003
26 RESIDENTS SUE THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY IN CLASS ACTION FOR DIOXIN POLLUTION IN SAGINAW
CONTACT: Teresa Woody, (800) 714-0360
Stueve Helder Siegel LLP has filed an environmental class action lawsuit against
Dow Chemical Company in Saginaw County, Michigan. The lawsuit alleges that Dow is
responsible for highly toxic levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River and flood plain
in Saginaw County. The named-plaintiffs are 25 residents of the Tittabawassee River flood
plain in Saginaw County. By virtue of the class action, these residents are bringing the
case on behalf of the nearly 2000 property-owners and residents of the Tittabawassee River
flood plain. In addition to the lost value of their real estate, they seek to require Dow
to fund a medical monitoring trust fund for the benefit of all who have resided along the
Tittabawassee over the past two decades.
Quoting from the Introduction to the lawsuit filed today:
The Tittabawassee River was
once a desirable place to live in Saginaw County. Both modest and expensive homes line its
banks, all set in a beautiful and wooded landscape. Residents live here to enjoy the
recreation and leisure activities unique to the area. Imagine children playing in the mud;
swimming in the river; fishing on its banks. Families garden together; tend to their
yards; mow their grass; all in a wooded, riverside park-like setting.
In early 2002, those
families learned shocking news from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They
learned for the first time that all of these activities are dangerous, especially to their
children. They learned that their homes and yards are polluted with Dioxin, the same toxin
that has caused entire towns to disappear; a substance that has been described as
"one of the deadliest toxins known to man." They learned that they are at risk
to suffer from many deadly and life altering diseases: cancer, immune deficiencies, and
birth defects, to name but a few. Worst of all, they learned that their children suffer
the greatest risk.
Life for the residents
along the Tittabawassee has changed forever. They now know that as much as 7,300 parts per
trillion of Dioxin has been detected in and near their backyards, an amount that exceeds
the residential clean up standard of 90 parts per trillion 81 times over. Like Love Canal
and Times Beach, the Tittabawassee neighborhood will be gone one day. But for now, the
residents remain trapped in homes made worthless by the Dioxin there. Dioxin that the Dow
Chemical Company put there. While Dow lobbies the government so that Dow may do little or
nothing; while the government contemplates, considers and studies Dow's requests, nothing
is done. But as each day passes, the people along the Tittabawassee are exposed to more
The time has come to free
these residents from the poisonous traps that were once their homes. The time has come to
provide the medical monitoring necessary to determine whether the residents have been
afflicted by Dioxin's diseases, and if so, to treat those conditions. The time has come to
hold Dow responsible for what it has done to the residents of the Tittabawassee.
The following documents
can be viewed if you have Adobe software to read pdf files. These are
large files, be patient as it takes a while to load depending upon the speed of your
Residents of the
dioxin-polluted Tittabawassee flood plain are weary of waiting for state agencies or The
Dow Chemical Co. to do something about the contamination. Twenty-six filed a class-action
complaint against Dow Tuesday in Saginaw County Circuit Court.
The suit seeks to represent about 2,000 people who have lived in the flood plain since
Plaintiffs believe that their property has been devalued and their health put at risk by
historic dioxin deposited by Dow into the river.
They hope a jury will decide that Dow should pay the pre-dioxin-discovery value of the
property, pay punitive damages and set up a medical monitoring trust to cover future
diagnosis of dioxin poisoning and treatments for residents exposed to the dioxin.
"We really think Dow should step up to the plate," said Jan P. Helder, the
Kansas City-based attorney representing the group. "If they dont, well
make them. This case is about holding them accountable. The time for talk and delay is
In 2002, families living along the Tittabawassee River and its flood plain were notified
by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that the soil in their backyards was
contaminated with dioxin. The lawsuit contends that Dow was negligent in its handling and
disposal of dioxin, resulting in levels as high as 7,300 parts per trillion. The
states residential cleanup standard is 90 parts per trillion.
The dioxin has been traced to Dow waste discharges into the river between 1915 and 1937.
Dow has acknowledged its responsibility for the contamination. Two state agreements, one
in 1985 that was the result of an exchange for building a boat launch, and another in
1997, deemed Dow released from all claims and action related to discharge of dioxins into
DEQ spokespeople have said it is unknown if the two documents will affect liability.
"They dont relieve Dow Chemical of any liability they might have under federal
law," Andrew Hogarth of the DEQ said.
Last year, Dow attempted a deal with the MDEQ that would have raised allowable dioxin
contamination levels ninefold in Midland. The deal, which included an offer to fund a
health study of the effects of dioxin along the plain, fell apart in December.
Dow, in a statement issued Tuesday, said it continues to work with the state and
community. It warned that homeowners should not be alarmed by the suit and that there has
been no evidence that property values have been affected.
"As a member of the Tri-Counties for many years," the statement continued,
"we are, and have been, fully committed to the health and environment of this
community. Its unfortunate that litigation could hurt what should be a collaborative
process with all residents, elected officials, and any company involved."
Helder expects Dow to respond to the suit in about 30 days. The wait for a jury trial
could be as long as two years, he said.
He does not expect Dow will be interested in settling out of court.
İMidland Daily News 2003
Families believe homes have no value due to dioxin
When Gary and Kathy Henry first considered buying their Freeland waterfront property,
they ran straight for the river.
"We wanted to be near the water," Gary remembers. "We didnt even look
at the house."
Nineteen years later, the flowing water is the enemy. Floods have deposited contamination
on their property. The land and the gray-blue ranch-style home that sits on it are
worthless, the Henrys say.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2002 issued a warning that there
should be no contact with soil around the house. Children should stay away from the
riverbank and dirt should be washed thoroughly and immediately from skin. Gardening should
be done only in coveralls. Shoes should always be worn.
Downriver in Saginaw, Wendy and Dennis Domino received a similar notice and immediately
put their Stroebel Road home up for sale.
"It was frightening," Domino said. "We were extremely panicked."
Wendy called The Dow Chemical Co., whose historical manufacturing processes are believed
to have produced and released the dioxin.
"I told them, Why dont you buy my house. No one else will,"
Dow representatives came to visit, and over the next two months, the company paid for two
appraisals of the Domino home.
"Consistent with our commitment to be responsive to the community, Dow agreed to fund
an appraisal for a resident on the Tittabawassee River," Dow spokeswoman Terri
The couple believed Dow was planning to answer their request to buy the house. Later,
Wendy said, she and her husband were advised to sell the home on their own.
"They told us Dow is not in the real estate business," she said.
To that, she said she answered: "Im not in the toxic clean-up business,
Johnson said the results of the appraisal showed that the dioxin had not impacted the
Five purchase agreements and five broken deals later, the Dominos believe it has.
"We listed our house and every time a buyer saw the dioxin warning, they ran like
hell," Wendy Domino said.
The Dominos and others who filed the class action suit against Dow say they are stuck in
their dioxin-drenched yards. Buyers wont look at their property and non-disclosure
is not an option, legally or morally.
"Morally, theres no gray area," Wendy said. "The buck has to stop
"The Dominos and others are above that," said lawyer Jan P. Helder Jr. of the
idea that they would sell without disclosing the information about dioxin. Helder is the
Kansas City attorney representing residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain.
"And theyre smarter than that. On a legal level, they understand that this is
not a particularly safe place to be."
Filing the suit against Dow Tuesday was a last resort, say the 26 residents who have
joined the effort.
"We had hoped that the state and officials and Dow were going to do something,"
said John Taylor, a Thomas Township flood plain property owner.
That didnt happen.
"I dread the thought of waiting and appeals and expense," said Domino, who hopes
the matter will be settled out of court. Helder and others think a settlement is unlikely.
İMidland Daily News 2003
County residents sue Dow for dioxin contamination
By LIZ AUSTIN
The Associated Press
3/25/03 6:47 PM
DETROIT (AP) -- Twenty-six Saginaw County residents have filed a class-action lawsuit
against Dow Chemical Co., saying dioxin contamination caused by its Midland manufacturing
plant has threatened their health and left their property worthless.
Dioxins are highly toxic byproducts of manufacturing and incineration systems and may
cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems in humans.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Saginaw County Circuit Court, seeks to represent about
2,000 people who have lived along the Tittabawassee River and flood plain since January
Dow Chemical said it had just learned of the complaint and couldn't respond to
specifics. But the company said it has seen no evidence that property values were hurt and
adds that it remains committed to the health of the community.
"Dow has been working to understand the concerns of residents along the
Tittabawassee River and has been meeting with the community, individually and
collectively, for more than a year," the company said in a statement.
In the lawsuit, the residents ask the court to make Dow establish a medical monitoring
trust fund for them. The fund would pay for dioxin poisoning testing and treatment, as
well as for studies of the toxins' effects and possible cures.
Jan P. Helder Jr., an attorney for the plaintiffs, said such testing is very expensive
and is available in just a few places, such as the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
"We believe that Dow should bear the burden of that, certainly not innocent
bystanders," Helder said Tuesday.
The lawsuit also asks for compensatory and punitive damages to help the plaintiffs move
to safer locations.
Given the original values of the properties involved, the compensatory damages alone
could add up to more than $100 million dollars if a judge certifies the class of 2,000
plaintiffs, Helder said.
Last year Dow tried to broker a deal with the state Department of Environmental Quality
that would have raised allowable dioxin contamination levels nine-fold in Midland. The
deal, however, fell apart in December.
Michigan's current standard is 90 parts per trillion. As much as 7,300 parts per
trillion has been detected in some contaminated areas, the lawsuit contends.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Tribune staff, wire reports
Published March 26, 2003
Twenty-six Saginaw County, Mich., residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against
Dow Chemical Co., saying dioxin contamination caused by its Midland, Mich., manufacturing
plant has threatened their health and left their property worthless. The lawsuit seeks to
represent about 2,000 people. Dow Chemical said it had just learned of the complaint and
couldn't respond. In the lawsuit, the residents ask the court to make Dow establish a
medical monitoring trust fund for them.