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Residents urged to action

Alissa Widman Neese • May 28, 2013 at 9:13 AM

A "stained glass window effect" obstructs justice for five Clyde families who lost children to cancer, according to attorney Alan Mortensen.

When viewed separately, about 40 sick children, more than a dozen toxic dump sites and a large manufacturing plant may not seem conclusive of foul play.

But when banded together with support of recent investigations, it's difficult to claim the cases are merely coincidence, Mortensen said.

"People are trying to segment this into little pieces, claiming it doesn't make sense," he said. "When you put the pieces together and shine some light on it, it's a complete picture. It does make sense."

About a dozen individuals impacted in a series of cases known as the "Clyde Cancer Cluster" stood before about 200 people Monday night, eager to shed some light on the situation. The group and their attorneys hosted a well-attended meeting in Fremont Ross High School's gymnasium to offer information about the ongoing investigation.

Mortensen, a Utah attorney representing many families as they seek a class-action lawsuit against Whirlpool, the alleged source of the cluster, spoke for nearly a half hour. He then opened the floor for about an hour of questions and comments.

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About a dozen people spoke, many voicing frustrations about a lack of urgency, accountability and answers as children continue to suffer and die from the disease. They also questioned the safety of Clyde-Green Springs Schools, which has not been tested during investigations related to lawsuits.

"Someone has to have the guts to be accountable," said Clyde resident Linda Linder, a vocal audience member Monday night. "It hurts me so bad that people don't care about these children. This is unacceptable."

The most recent lawsuit, which the families filed in federal court in Toledo earlier this month, alleges benzaldehyde and possibly other toxins released or dumped by Whirlpool caused the death of five young people and sickened about two dozen others in the Clyde area. The allegations rely, in part, on the discovery of benzaldehyde in the attics of several homes where the affected children lived. An earlier lawsuit was filed in March in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court in Fremont.

Several individuals involved in the lawsuits debunked the notion they are simply trying to obtain money or put Whirlpool out of business at Monday's meeting.

"We're here to make the area safer, to prevent this from happening to someone else," said Clyde resident Dave Hisey, who has watched two of his three young children battle leukemia. "We have to get answers, and if a lawsuit is the only way to find on what's going on in this community, we have to do it."

Attorney Charles Boyk, who is also involved in the lawsuits, urged attendees to contact elected officials and seek action related to the cancer cluster. Boyk and Mortensen also collected information Monday from audience members wishing to test their homes for toxins.

"It's not about attorneys, it's not about Whirlpool, it's not about these people, it's about your community," Boyk said. "These people are just the faces of what's happening in your community. They have the right to answers and so do you."

Want to learn more?

Visit cancerclusterclyde.com for more information about the Clyde cancer cluster lawsuits.

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