New plaintiffs added to cancer cluster lawsuit against Whirlpool - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

New plaintiffs added to cancer cluster lawsuit against Whirlpool

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The owners of the former Whirlpool Park property in Green Springs have joined the lawsuit alleging Whirlpool Corporation’s Clyde factory released dangerous chemicals in the air and dumped toxic sludge at the former park site.

According to the amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo on June 27th, the Abdoo family and Grist Mill LLC allege, “Plaintiff contracted to purchase a park, but was delivered a hazardous waste dump site.”

Whirlpool has denied the charges.  Tuesday evening, Kristine Vernier, a spokesperson for Whirlpool Corporation released this statement to 13abc: “Whirlpool is a responsible corporate citizen of Clyde and is vigorously defending itself against unfounded and irresponsible allegations made in the ongoing litigation. Whirlpool has met all of its obligations related to the sale of the former park. We had no knowledge of any contaminant located on the site when the park was sold in 2008 and neither Whirlpool nor the current property owners became aware of the PCBs until we were informed by the U.S. EPA."

In May of 2013 after seven years of searching for answers as to why so many kids are getting sick, 27 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the largest employer in Clyde alleging negligence, including wrongful death and personal injury. The families in the Eastern Sandusky County area are seeking at least five million dollars in damages from Whirlpool Corporation.

State and federal agencies have not been able to find a cause for the cluster.

Jonathan and Robert Abdoo, a father and son, bought the old park property from Whirlpool in 2008.  Whirlpool had bought the park in the 1950s and operated it as a park for employees.

The Abdoo family attorney, Tom Bowlus out of Fremont, has told 13abc that the Abdoos were planning to build a dream home on the 27-acre site.  Bowlus has said they thought they were getting clean property.

Bowlus is on vacation this week, but according to the amended complaint, Grist Mill LLC and the Abdoos allege Whirlpool concealed the contamination. 

The complaint states, “Plaintiff Grist Mill Creek, LLC further alleges that the value of the property purchased is radically different from that which was represented to it, and that Plaintiff is either unable to sell the property or unable to sell it at the price which it would otherwise receive, given the presence of hazardous substances on the property.”

Back in May of 2013, a spokesperson for Whirlpool released a statement about the newly filed lawsuit saying, “We will vigorously defend Whirlpool, its employees, and the community against these allegations. Whirlpool has been part of the fabric of the Clyde community for more than 60 years and we remain committed to acting responsibly."

In November of 2012, report by the US Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of PCB's and toxic metals buried nine feet deep in the soil at Whirlpool Park.

In November of 2013, Whirlpool released the results of its in-depth testing at the old park saying it found no evidence of hazardous illegal dumping or any health risk.

Whirlpool said its tests, which were done with EPA oversight, show no groundwater or pool filter contamination. High levels of PCB's were found near the basketball court and former grist mill, according to Whirlpool. The company said it is expected of fill dirt used before the 1970's and Whirlpool would pay for the clean-up.

"We don't know how it got there but we are responsible," said Jeff Noel, Whirlpool Vice President for Communications & Public Affairs, in November of 2013. "We believe the science and the data clearly show that there are no health risks and there is no association with the types of health issues and concerns that the families have raised.”

 Tuesday evening, Vernier, says, "In conjunction with the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA and the current property owner, a full environmental review of the former Whirlpool Park site was completed last year. The testing found no health risk and no evidence of hazardous illegal dumping. No PCBs or other man-made chemicals were found in groundwater samples. The low levels of PCBs and metals found at this site were at concentrations that pose no health risk and are not surprising for fill dirt used in the 1950s and 1960s, when major improvements were made to the park.”

The state health department started the cancer cluster investigation in 2006 and that report found no known cause for the high cancer rates.

According to the lawsuit, “Over 43 children in Eastern Sandusky County have gotten cancer from 2000 to 2013.”

The lawsuit alleges Whirlpool released benzaldehyde, a hazardous substance and suspected carcinogen, in its manufacturing process.  The families believe that benzaldehyde caused kids to get sick.

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