A St. Louis City Court jury has awarded 16 young Herculaneum residents $38.5 million according to a report by Courthouse News report. From 1986 to 1994, Fluor Corp., A.T. Massey Coal and Doe Run Investment Holding Co., had been exposing residents to dangerous levels of lead, originating from a giant smelter, owned by the defendants.
According to the original lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that lead poisoning caused them to suffer attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and caused them to lose 3.9 to 6.6 points off their IQ’s. The ages of the plaintiffs range from 11 to 26, and each will receive $1.5 million and $3 million in compensatory damages. Punitive damages have not yet been determined.
The lawsuit alleged that residents were not warned about the dangerous levels of lead until 1993, even though a 1989 internal memo reported that soil samples from around the smelter were many times higher than what was necessary to qualify for federal Superfund status.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said the threshold for lead levels was not as low then as it is today.
The smelter which had been in operation for over 100 years, was taken over by Doe Run Resources Corp., who have said they will shut the plant down in 2013 and replace it with a more advanced smelter nearby.
Doe Run Resources Corp., which was not named in the Missouri lawsuit, is also the owner of Doe Run Peru, a smelting operation in La Oroya, Peru that has been blamed for poisoning thousands of Peruvian children. In 2006, La Oroya was named one of the 10 most polluted areas in the world by the Blacksmith Institute, an environmental organization in New York
Parker Waichman Alonso LLP is currently working with Peruvian lawyers to investigate legal claims stemming from the La Oroya catastrophe.