Lawsuit blames Whirlpool for cancer cluster

FREMONT — A law firm has filed a $750 million class action lawsuit against the Whirlpool Corp., blaming the company for causing the Clyde Cancer Cluster by dumping toxic chemicals at the former Whirlpool Park in Green Springs.
Tom Jackson
Mar 29, 2013

Attorneys Joe Albrechta and John Coble filed the suit Thursday in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Tim Lagrou, of Fremont, and his son, Hayden Lagrou. Tim Lagrou’s wife, Christina Lagrou, was 23 when she died of cancer in 2006, the suit says.

Other plaintiffs in the suit include members of the Gill and Strayer families, including Alex Gill, a boy who the suit says suffered neurological damage from toxic substances at Whirlpool Park.

The suit says Christina Lagrou was born and raised within 1,500 feet of Whirlpool Park and her mother used the park, including when she was pregnant with Christina. Members of the Gill and Strayer family live within 1,500 feet of the park. The suit blames Christina Lagrou’s cancer and other cancer cases in Clyde on toxic substances allegedly dumped at Whirlpool Park.

The court documents also note that U.S. EPA testing at the park last year showed the presence of PCBs and metals and a layer of dirty sludge. The suit, assigned to Judge John Dewey, seeks class action status to represent many people in the Clyde area.

Defendants in the lawsuit are Whirlpool; Grill Mill LLC, the current owner of the former park; and unknown companies accused of placing toxic chemicals in the park. Whirlpool closed the park years ago and sold it to Grist Mill.

The suit seeks damages on behalf of the plaintiffs and punitive damages of $750 million for the plaintiffs and members of the class action.

Whirpool responded with a statement from spokeswoman Kristine Vernier: “We are currently reviewing the lawsuit filed today. As a member of the community for over 60 years, with more than 3,000 employees in the area, we are also very interested in figuring out the facts behind this ongoing issue.”

“We are working closely with the current property owner, the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA to address the issues at the former Whirlpool Park through the Ohio EPA Voluntary Action Program,” Vernier said. “We have submitted a Phase I Property Assessment Report and Phase II Work Plans for comment and approval by both agencies.”

Further testing is expected at the former park after the plans are approved. 

Other attorneys involved in the case suggested the lawsuit may be premature. Several families affected by the Clyde Cancer Cluster have hired a different set of attorneys from a Salt Lake City, Utah, law firm, Dewsnup, King and Olsen. Those attorneys haven’t filed a lawsuit yet, but they’ve been conducting tests and collecting documents.

Alan Mortensen, a member of the law firm, has said further testing hasn’t been carried out yet at Whirlpool Park, and his firm has no relationship with the attorneys who filed the lawsuit Thursday.

“It is the Cancer Cluster Families’ hope that the lawsuit filed by the Albrechta firm is based upon solid expert opinion and science and will assist in finding the cause of what has been causing their children to get sick and in some cases die,” Mortensen said. “The Cancer Cluster Families believe that if the lawsuit filed by the Albrechta firm was done prematurely or with speculative opportunism based upon the work that has been done by the Cancer Cluster Families, their experts and attorneys, the Sandusky County Health Department, the Ohio EPA and the United States EPA, that it may be detrimental to their ultimate search for the truth.”

Fremont attorney Thomas Bowlus, who represents Grist Mill LLC, said he is “surprised and disappointed” Grist Mill has been listed as a defendant, and he denied Grist Mill and its co-owner, Jonathan Abdoo, have any liability for contamination at Whirlpool Park. Bowlus said the suit seems premature.

Grist Mill was told the property was clean when it purchased the parcel. When Grist Mill first learned the property was contaminated, it immediately began working with Whirlpool, the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA to conduct further testing with an eye toward eventual cleanup, Bowlus said.

The only data showing contamination is the initial tests the U.S. EPA carried out last year, Bowlus said. 

“There’s nothing to establish the causal connection between that and the cancer in anybody,” he said. “They haven’t connected the dots as far as any exposures.”

Coble said the timing of a class action lawsuit is always tricky, but his clients were ready to move.

“Once they knew who had caused this problem, they wanted to go after it and start getting more answers,” Coble said.

Maning Grist Mill LLC as a defendant is a normal part of the process, Coble said, although he added: “They may well have a claim within this suit against Whirlpool.” 

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Comments

2cents

Maybe DNC :)

Katelih-Trailer...

Kimo..About 25 years ago when I was a kid...I think I visited a place where a lot of people with Autism were housed. I wonder if autistic people were put in "homes" by their families due to lack of knowledge about the disorder or maybe because they were ashamed of them..
Maybe I am just being naive cause I don't really want to accept the fact that the government is poisoning us.

Simple Enough II

Curious about that also, maybe all chemicals leeching out of plastics we use? Who knows.

mikel

money grubbers.

i hope that if found to be non negligent that these companies go after the lawyers and people behind the lawsuit and sue them for legal costs and defamation!!!!

there is NO solid proof that whirlpool or any other company is negligent.

BEHAPPY

Funny how some here want to accuse the victims of being money hungry. I BET you would do the SAME if it were your kids sick and dying! BTW~how many of you blaming the victims work at or have family/friends that work at Whirlpool?

John Harville

Behappy. Be happy that only four of the 37 in the 'cancer cluster' have died. Many conquered the beast and are living fruitful happy lives.

We have cancer in our family.

We never looked for someone to blame, just took the treatments and still alive cancer-free two decades later.

Hoss McGee

Well BEHAPPY I know nobody that works at Whirlpool. Like I said I do feel bad for the families and am very sorry. Anyway why jump the gun and start the lawsuit. I know other places in Clyde that could an should be tested. My family and I use to go to the park all the time for many years. My parents never had cancer, I never had cancer or my siblings, or any of are kids. Now a few have cancer. Yeah it sucks and I'm sorry. There are other things that could be tested

mikel

hoss, i agree. while i do feel sorry, there is no solid evidence that whirlpool or any others listed in this lawsuit are negligent. until that time comes i feel that this lawsuit is irresponsible

John Harville

MIKEL... Grist Mill Inc. - the other DEFENDANT - is owned by Jeff Abdoo and other Abdoos and have spent six years dumping construction debris at Whirlpool Park AND in a pond IN Green Springs. The Albrechta suit would hold Grist Mill/Abdoo accountable.
Said Abdoo/Grist Mill is a PLAINTIFF in another action attempting to force Whirlpool to clean up the site...
Opposite sides of the same coin? Strange bedfellows?

here in ohio

And like nobody saw this coming !!!! I hope that nobody gets one dime !!!!

bobaluey

Seeing $$ ... other places need to be tested.. and let's just one time consider the possibility of past/ or present habits such as drug use by parents/grandparents ( who may have passed something on -- like a gene mutation , perhaps ) or the deceased themselves cigerette smoking, etc etc.

Yes, I'm sure the pesticides from the fields etc. are a factor. But people are ignoring the obvious. Although some people just admit to bad lifestyle choices .

I'm not saying that's for sure what happened just another angle.

Good Luck with the $750 million ...... uh, yeah.

nosey rosey

A total BS lawsuit filed by people who think that money will make up for their unfortunate circumstances. How many people, young and old, are diagnosed and die every day from cancer? If this one location was supposedly responsible for people getting cancer, the area would be a ghost town. Greed and witch hunts won't bring back anyone from the dead. Please seek counciling and move on with you life. And by the way, I have lost loved ones to this disease but I don't spend my life trying to find someone to blame.

The Big Dog's back

Such a kind and compassionate response.

BEHAPPY

I agree BIG DOG.....they are cruel, evil people here. If you notice...most of them are no matter the story. It's today's culture just nasty, vicious so called "human beings" anymore.

BEHAPPY

BTW, most of the evil ones work at Whirlpool.....and THAT's the truth. I'm not saying they are all here (on SR blogs) but they are all THERE!

tk

To those of you who say there are other places that should be tested: There were agents from the US EPA in the area about a year ago, they published a number to call if you had information about any site that might have been contaminated. Did you call?

John Harville

TK a LOT of people called... which is why the EPA has been back testing and re-testing - and cleaning up.

kURTje

Staber Washer & Dryers. Made in Groveport, Ohio since 1993. Featured in Wall St. Journal, Consumer Reports & more. Pay more & get much more.

EZOB

Might sound a bit negative but Whirlpool will probably close. I doubt many other large employers would consider setting up base in Clyde so where does this leave Clyde say 10 years from now? A Ghost Town? Can they absorb the tax loss?

The Big Dog's back

Typical Repub. Money 1st, lives 2nd.

8ballinthesidepocket

This comment was removed because it made too much sense.

luvblues2

What planet do you live on? Why should the afternoon shift worker at station 6 on line 3 have to pay for management's mistakes?

8ballinthesidepocket

I suppose if the foreman told all these lemmings on station 6 line 3 to climb up on the roof and jump off, they would. Why didn't they say something or report to the OSHA hot line about this ooze they were dumping??? Why didn't they go to the union? For the same reason management did, nobody knew the consequences or do you really think management had a plan to pollute the area?

kURTje

Union @ Whirlpool? Where?

John Harville

Kurt... no place. In fact they closed the 'home' factory in St. Joe/Benton Harbor when it tried to unionize.

BillieChris

This lawsuit was filed before the test results have come back. The families that are doing the testing, are not a part of this suit. The attorneys are not even the same.

John Harville

The Utah attorneys (the lead attorney grew up in Gibsonburg) in the Cancer Cluster case (no lawsuit filed yet) are under no responsibility to share their results.

Alrechta just wants to be first in line for the money IF there is any. His suit is not based on much science and his clients aren't paying for research. If the EPA does NOT discover a link at Grist Mill (Whirlpool) Park, the suit goes away.

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