A Camdenton woman is suing the former manufacturing plant her husband worked in and lived near, alleging the plant's handling of hazardous chemicals and subsequent environmental contamination caused his death.
A Camdenton woman is suing the former manufacturing plant her husband worked in and lived near, alleging the plant’s handling of hazardous chemicals and subsequent environmental contamination caused his death.
The lawsuit was filed May 1 by attorney Chandler Gregg of Strong-Garner-Bauer, P.C. of Springfield, on behalf of Lynda and Wes Seaton, wife and son of the late Gary Seaton.
They are listed as wrongful death beneficiaries and property owners allegedly harmed by the defendants, Modine Manufacturing Company, UTC Aerospace Systems, INC. (formerly Sundstrand Corporation) and Camdenton resident John Blatchford, a former supervisor of Seaton.
Seaton was employed by both Sundstrand and Modine at the plant from February 1969 until 2012 when the facility closed.
The case, filed in Camden County Circuit Court, concerns the operation of the industrial plant located on Sunset Drive in Camdenton and the alleged “release of cancer-causing trichloroethylene (TCE) and other harmful compounds by defendants into the environment, ambient air outside the plant and into the surrounding fields, soils, streams and water supply, resulting in devastating illness and injury to Gary Seaton, Gary’s eventual death, and resulting in contamination in the surrounding community, to include Lynda’s and Gary’s property,” the petition states.
The suit also alleges reckless exposure by the defendants to workers within the facility, including “the poisoning of Gary Seaton, and the community, by Modine and Sundstrand.”
The petition states that Seaton lived at 415 Mulberry in Camdenton and alleges he received exposure to TCE through the water supply, ambient air, soil and soil vapors that intruded his home. “As a result of his frequent exposure to TCE and/or other compounds from (a) the environment, and (b) while working at the Plant, Gary was diagnosed with liver, colon and bladder cancer; and on August 8, 2016, Gary died of said diseases which were caused by the defendants,” the petition claims.
Gary Seaton was originally diagnosed in 2013 with stage four cancer, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges from at least the 1970s until the late 1980s Sundstrand discharged waste into the city-operated Hulett Lagoon. The wastewater allegedly contained high levels of TCE and other carcinogenic agents. TCE and carcinogens migrated into the subsurface, the suit claims.
“This included TCE migration into a perched groundwater zone slightly more than 100 feet below the ground surface and also into a deep aquifer far below the surface, creating a deep groundwater plume that was pulled southward in the soil and subsurface by the nearby Mulberry Well,” according to the lawsuit. “Beginning in 1986, shortly after the Mulberry Well was built, the Mulberry Well became contaminated with TCE and other toxic compounds, as a result of Sundstrand’s conduct.”
The lawsuit alleges that Seaton, as an employee, handled large amounts of TCE and other toxic agents and was even told by supervisors to dump the contaminants outside of the facility into the ground.
“When the TCE, TCA and other compounds had been used, defendants Sundstrand, Modine, and Blatchford, ordered workers to dump the TCE and waste compounds onto the ground and into the soil outside the Plant,” the petition alleges. “Upon information and belief, such dumping continued to occur on a near-constant basis until the mid-to-late 1990s, with said conduct occurring by all defendants named herein.”
Furthermore, the court documents allege workers for Moline and Sundstrand were also instructed to dump barrels of TCE and other carcinogens, specifically burying 55-gallon drums that corroded and emptied into the environment. The lawsuit argues that workers were not provided safety equipment or equipment necessary to handle the toxic compounds, despite their employers knowing or should have known the potential health risks.
“Modine and Sundstrand have been advised of the contamination they have caused in this community, and the dangers to which they have exposed both workers and property owners, and Modine and Sundstrand have failed and refused to take proper remedial measures to reduce or eliminate the dangers that each has caused,” the petition states.
“When Modine was instructed to perform the clean-up of the area and/or take remedial action with regard to the TCE contamination for which it is responsible, Modine responded to the government and the community surrounding the Plant by (a) misrepresenting information and data to the government, (b) concealing its misconduct, (c) continuing to harm the people in the community surrounding its Plant, and (d) requesting that it be allowed to be close the site and perform no further remediation.”
The lawsuit, which does not seek a specific amount of recovered damages, seeks to hold the defendants accountable on five counts including negligence for exposure into the environment which contributed to Gary Seaton’s death, negligence for work conditions which contributed to Gary Seaton’s death, strict liability for abnormally dangerous activity, property damage and devaluation to the family’s home.
According to CaseNet.com, a judge has not yet been assigned to the case, though summons have been issued.