>Beasley Allen attorneys Rhon Jones and David Byrne are fighting to make a difference in the lives of those threatened by environmental toxins that contaminate waterways, soil and wildlife, endangering human health and life. These are often difficult and complex cases because of the variety of scientific and technical issues involved.
And as the recent coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee reminds us, hundreds or even thousands of lives are affected by environmental hazards.
Environmental toxins can pose an immediate health threat, but more often than not they slowly break down the health and well-being of those they affect. These toxins are man-made, usually chemicals or pollutants created by industry and either accidentally or carelessly allowed to seep or spew into the surrounding area.
Sometimes environmental toxins are an irritant to the people subjected to them, creating smog, haze, grime and other visible residue. But very often, people are not aware of their toxic environment and don’t realize its effects until years later, after suffering from chronic illnesses as a result.
Beasley Allen has worked hard to gain a national reputation as a leader in environmental litigation. We work to earn settlements and verdicts on behalf of the clients we represent in the hope that we can help change the way these industries do business, making the world a safer place to live in the long term.
Among the firm’s proudest moments in this fight is a $700 million settlement with Monsanto Co. and Solutia, Inc., which operated a plant that polluted groundwater in Anniston, Ala., with PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls, labeled as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA in 1977 – affecting more than 20,000 people. This was the largest private environmental settlement in American history.
Beyond monetary damages, Monsanto and Solutia were required by the settlement agreement to perform court-supervised remediation of the PCB-contaminated areas of the affected community and participate in a series of community health initiatives for the area residents. These companies were forced to look after the health of the people they poisoned for years.
Many people are familiar with environmental law because of the movie, Erin Brockovich, released in 2000, which starred Julia Roberts in the title role. The movie portrays how Brockovich, despite having no formal law school education, was able to put together a case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California, alleging the corporation was contaminating drinking water in an area about two miles long and one mile wide near its Hinkley Compressor Station. PG&E settled the case in 1996 for $333 million.
More recently, in June 2008, the United States Supreme Court issued an order upholding a $20.7 million Beasley Allen verdict against China Synthetic Rubber Corporation of Taiwan and its Alabama-based plant, Continental Carbon. In August 2004, a federal jury found on behalf of the plaintiffs in this case, which involved damages from carbon black pollution repeatedly released, for years, by Continental Carbon onto the community located adjacent to its plant.