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Florida Victims Harmed By Tainted Water Reach Settlement

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on December 14, 2011

Nearly 40 former factory workers who have developed cancers and other serious illnesses from drinking and washing with tainted drinking water have settled a multimillion-dollar five-year legal battle against Siemens Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. The victims claimed that the companies negligently handled toxins that leaked into nearby drinking water sources that eventually caused a variety of cancers and other life-threatening illnesses. Gladys Elder, a 32-year employee at the Lake Mary plant that makes telecommunications equipment was pleased that the long legal battle with the corporations was at an end.

“I’m just glad it’s over with,” she said, echoing what many of her coworkers said. Elder is a 70-year-old retiree who was diagnosed with kidney cancer more than ten years ago. She and her coworkers accused the corporations of making them sick by improperly handling industrial solvents such as trichloroethene (TCE), which was used to clean circuit boards and other electronic equipment at the plant.

Siemens AG owned the plant in 2001 and ordered workers to stop drinking the water after TCE was discovered. TCE is a known carcinogen that has caused cancer in laboratory animals. Workers had sued TCE at the plant from the time it opened in 1968 until 1986, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. After using the solvent to clean electronics, workers poured it into 55-gallon drums that were rusty and leaked the solvent into nearby groundwater over time. The tainted water was pumped inside the plant, where workers used it to wash their hands and make coffee. The plant was closed in 2003 after being owned and operated by five different corporations over the years, including United Technologies Corp., Marconi Communications Inc. and Siemens. Each corporation was a defendant in the lawsuit, and, while details about the settlement were unknown, it is believed that different employees were awarded different amounts.

Former employee and plaintiff Wallace Brottem was one of the recipients of the settlement. He has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, an illness with symptoms similar to leukemia. He did not reveal how much he received in the settlement, but doubted that the amount would help pay the more than $1 million in medical bills he has incurred to treat his illness. Many of the former employees and plaintiffs in the suit died before the suit was settled.

This sad story illustrates how important it is to retain the services of an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer. While no amount of damages awarded in a court award or settlement can undo damage caused by corporate irresponsibility, it can help victims provide for their families and get the level of care they need. If you believe that your health has been impaired by someone’s negligence and you’d like to speak with an Orlando personal injury attorney, call James O. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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