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September 2013 Archives

Looming Vapor Intrusion Problem In Muskegon Michigan?

On Tuesday September 10th  local media reported that investigation of the former Burgess-Norton plant on Nims Street in Muskegon continues to drag on. Click here to read the article.  A closer look reveals a troubling, and far too common scenario.......the precise scenario Shawn Collins discussed in his most recent blog post.  We have a severe contamination problem.......highly toxic cancer causing chemicals (TCE) in an approximate mile-long plume just feet below what looks like hundreds of homes in Muskegon.  The regulator, MDEQ, has known about it since at least as early as 2006, and likely before.  The concentrations of chemicals exceed standards which require a comprehensive investigation to see whether there are any vapors collecting inside or under the homes.  No such investigation has taken place.  Key questions remain unanswered.  Among others:

Contamination Victims Deserve a Lawyer, Too

Our work for contamination victims typically starts out like this: A group of families get "bad news".  They're told -- often at a community meeting in the basement of a local town hall or church -- that their water supply has just been tested, and that dangerous industrial chemicals are in the water they drink and bathe in.  Or maybe that the contamination has slipped inside their homes in a "vapor" form -- called "vapor intrusion" -- and now it's been detected in the air they breathe while they're sleeping at night.  Sometimes, the bad news comes in a certified letter, or the families read about it for the first time in the local newspaper. Sometimes, they are told who the environmental culprit is, sometimes not.  Sometimes, they get a lot of technical blah, blah, blah about how government or the polluter couldn't possibly have known any earlier that the families were in danger. A bad day for these families, no matter how you slice it. That's when we get called.  Understandably, these people are shocked, angry, hurt and feeling betrayed by those whom they had trusted to protect them.  They're scared, really.  Wouldn't you be?  So, they want someone who will tell them what's really going on, and, if necessary, who will fight for them... to fix the problem, or at least try to make things better.  They want some sense of peace and security restored to their homes and neighborhood. They hire us, because this is what we do.  We fight for these families.  We tell them the truth, and enlist the court system to make the polluter clean up and pay for the damage it has done.  And one of the first things we do is we meet with these folks, and start giving them facts in response to their questions.  Questions like:

Settlement Law Enacted - Timely Settlement Payments In Injury Lawsuits To Be Mandated By Statute

Effective January 1, 2014, 735 ILCS 5/2-2301 "Settlement" takes effect. In essence, this portion of the code of civil procedure is aimed at making sure that once a settlement is reached in a personal injury case (say, a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice case, wrongful death, or similar) the settlement is wrapped up quickly, with a timely payment to the recovering party. In the past, it was common for settling defendants to drag their feet in finalizing the terms of a settlement, or making the payment, as the plaintiff is often in a "limbo" state where the case is not going to proceed further, but they still have not received their compensation. This statute will end that practice. For example, the new section makes clear: A settling defendant shall pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 30 days of tender by the plaintiff of the executed release and all applicable documents... The full text of this new section of the code, which is very favorable to injured victims who brought personal injury suits to enforce their rights, can be found by clicking here.

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The Collins Law Firm, P.C.
1770 Park Street
Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563

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