ALTON – A Madison County judge granted final approval for a $4.26 million class action settlement on behalf of thousands of Granite City residents who said they endured years of pollution from a neighboring steel mill and coke plant.
Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest mass tort litigation firms, represented the class of more than 4,000 residents and secured the result on Feb. 16 against SunCoke Energy Inc. and Gateway Energy & Coke Company, LLC and U.S. Steel Corp.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit on Nov. 10, 2014, against defendants SunCoke and U.S. Steel. Residents living near the plants claimed airborne particles were released into the atmosphere and onto their properties during the plants’ operations. They also reported substantial amounts of noxious odors emanating from the mill.
“Home is supposed to be a place to enjoy time with family and feel safe from the world. For several years, the people of Granite City have been unable to escape the dirty emissions floating onto their homes and cars from the steel-making plants,” said Shareholder Ted N. Gianaris, who served as co-lead attorney along with Shareholder Jo Anna Pollock to represent the plaintiffs. “This settlement holds the steel mill and coke plant responsible for taking this refuge and enjoyment away from the neighbors.”
SunCoke produces a raw material called coke, which U.S. Steel then uses to manufacture steel. During their operations, SunCoke and U.S. Steel regularly released substantial amounts of particles into the atmosphere that left a silty deposit on neighbors’ properties and cars – sometimes even getting inside their homes. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants negligently failed to capture these emissions and failed to store and properly transport the coke.
On Aug. 28, 2017, Circuit Judge William A. Mudge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit agreed and granted preliminary approval for the $4.26 million settlement. The settlement class included anyone who occupied property in a pre-determined geographical area from Nov. 10, 2009, through Aug. 28, 2017.
In 2013, SunCoke agreed to settle a separate claim filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and paid a penalty of $1.995 million. They were also ordered to contribute $225,000 to the St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition. The alleged violation concerned excessive bypass venting of hot coking gasses directly into the atmosphere, resulting in excess SO2 and particulate matter emissions from the facilities’ waste heat and main stacks in violation of EPA permit limits.
The case is Peggy Keltner, Jerome and Beverly Johnson and Melinda Duniphan, Plaintiffs, vs. SunCoke Energy, Inc. and Gateway Energy & Coke Company, LLC and United States Steel Corporation, Defendants (No. 2014-L-1540).
About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms and has recovered more than $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Vioxx, Yaz and Toyota Unintended Acceleration. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Alton, Ill. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.