Whirlpool Faces 'Cancer Cluster' Lawsuit Based on Allegations of Dumping of Toxic Chemicals


May 24, 2013

There are many potential hazards that people are exposed to on a daily basis including negligent drivers, unsafe consumer products, unrestrained vicious dogs and more. However, most people that live in Atlanta and the surrounding areas of Georgia do not worry about their safety when they are asleep in bed or their children play in the backyard. Unfortunately, environmental substances like toxic chemicals, carcinogens and other unsafe materials released by manufacturing and processing plants in a range of industries can put those in surrounding neighborhoods at risk of developing serious illnesses.

A recent "cancer cluster" near the Ohio Whirlpool factory is being blamed on the toxic dumping of a chemical called benzaldehyde from a washing machine plant owned by the appliance manufacturer located in a town just south of where many of the cancer cases have been discovered. The term "cancer cluster" is defined as a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occur in a population within a certain location over a period of time according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While many people contract cancer particularly once they are over forty, dozens of young people have developed cancer in the Ohio town since the mid-90s. The number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer peaked during 2006 when nine kids were diagnosed with cancer.

The lawsuit alleges that Whirlpool dumped the chemical benzaldehyde in a park it once owned near the cancer cluster. The chemical is used as a solvent for porcelain coating and painting, but the complaint asserts that there has been insufficient research to determine the impact of the chemical on people or animals. The federal Environmental Protection Agency indicated during chemical testing last year that there were high levels of a substance in the soil that is known to increase the risk of certain varieties of cancer. Further, the chemical substance was detected in the homes of several of those who have contracted cancer.

Companies that use potentially toxic substances have a legal duty to implement adequate measures to prevent environmental exposure to those that live or work nearby. These businesses also are prohibited from disposing of toxic chemicals improperly by dumping them into the soil or bodies of water. These types of actions may form a basis for a toxic tort claim against the company. Toxic tort cases require investigation by industry experts to analyze soil, water and/or air samples and to evaluate data regarding unusually high rates of cancer or other serious illnesses.

If you believe you live in an area where there is a disproportionately high number of cancer cases or other serious illnesses that may be caused by environmental exposure to toxic chemicals, we invite you to contact us so that we can analyze whether you have a viable legal claim. A toxic tort claim is a legal action seeking compensation for harm caused by exposure to hazardous substances like pesticides or chemicals.

Cases involving environmental contamination that cause cancer can be extremely challenging particularly on the issue of causation. Even if a carcinogen is identified as being present in unsafe levels, it may be difficult to trace the hazardous material to its source. Further, exposure to hazardous chemicals may occur years or even decades prior to the diagnosis of cancer so insurance carriers often attribute the source of the cancer to other factors like heredity. It is important to obtain legal advice from an experienced Georgia toxic tort law attorney promptly because these causation issues are complicated by the fact that evidence and documents may become hard to locate as time passes between exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.

Call the Georgia personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). 

We are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.