Environmental Toxic Chemical Contamination Case Experience

Overview

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has represented numerous individuals and businesses in landmark cases for both personal injury and property damage resulting from toxic chemicals. The Firm has pioneered groundbreaking approaches to protect and compensate its clients in trial courts and appeals courts.

In 2006, The Hannon Law Firm, LLC, with co-counsel, filed Jackson et al. v. Unocal et al., a lawsuit on behalf of approximately 500 property owners against Unocal Corporation and others for asbestos contamination in the soil in northeast Colorado caused by the removal of a pipeline and salvage operations connected with the pipeline. The class action lawsuit was certified on March 17, 2009. Unocal appealed the class certification. On October 31, 2011, the Supreme Court upheld the class certification and in doing so reaffirmed Colorado law supporting class certification. The negotiated settlement included a $32.5 million payment to the class and additional cleanup and testing requirements. The Final Fairness Hearing was held on January 24, 2013, and settlement was approved.

In 2003, The Hannon Law Firm, LLC obtained a landmark decision from the Colorado Supreme Court, en banc, establishing the law of continuing trespass in toxic chemical cases. The case arises out of the Firm’s commitment to represent a individual homeowner for the groundwater contamination in the East Montclair Neighborhood coming from the Lowry Air Force Base. In Hoery v. USA, on referral from the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court stated:

“… the ongoing presence and continued migration of toxic chemicals on the plaintiff’s property, allegedly caused by toxic chemicals released by the United States, each constitutes a continuing trespass and nuisance. … [T]he tortious conduct of the United States is not limited to its initial release of those chemicals into the ground, but also includes its failure to remove the toxic chemicals and to abate the spread of toxic pollution onto the plaintiff’s property.”

This decision protects those who are initially misled by the polluter and government agencies that the contamination is of no concern and that they will take steps to clean it up, to their detriment, allowing the statute of limitations to pass. This new law is consistent with interpretation of the law the Firm developed ten years before.

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC was trial counsel in Escamilla et al. v. Asarco, one of the largest verdicts in Colorado in an environmental damage case at the time of verdict. In Escamilla, the Firm represented the Denver community of Globeville in a class action suit for contamination of its air and soil by cadmium and arsenic. The six-week trial resulted in a jury verdict and the court entering judgment for $28.1 million. This case was the first jury trial in Colorado to award the cost of cleaning up the contamination as part of the damage award, and was pioneering nationally for that remedy. The settlement reached after trial provided for remediation of the Globeville community, and payment of money damages to the residents. The Firm was part of the team that oversaw implementation and completion of the five year soil cleanup.

In Orjias et al. v. Louisiana-Pacific, the Hannon Law Firm, LLC represented families who lived next to a waferboard facility which emitted formaldehyde, MDI and wood particulates. The three week trial resulted a March 1992 jury verdict for $2.3 million, including $1.8 million in punitive damages. Evidence from that trial was used as part of the basis for action by the federal government against Louisiana-Pacific, which included the largest fine imposed by the U.S. EPA at the time, and criminal charges. The Orjias verdict was upheld in its entirety through the United States Supreme Court.

In 1998, the Firm won a $1.8 million jury verdict on behalf of an owner of industrial property located next to the Leyden Underground Natural Gas Storage facility in Jefferson County operated by Public Service Company. The award, which included $278,000 in punitive damages, proved a total loss in value of this 70 acre property due to the migration of natural gas from the Leyden storage facility. When Public Service then sought to take the client’s property away by condemning the property, the Firm also successfully defeated that action. In January, 2000, the verdict was affirmed in its entirety by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the request of Public Service to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. As a result of the publicity surrounding that decision, Public Service admitted to the leaks it had not previously disclosed and agreed to drop the operating pressure of the facility to reduce the migration of gas. Public Service eventually decommissioned this dangerous facility because of the publicity surrounding the case.

In 1996, the Firm served as co-counsel in claims on behalf of the Eagle County School District against Paramount Communications which owned the environmental liabilities at the Eagle Mine in Minturn, Colorado. The case resulted in a payment of $1.5 million and indemnification for environmental liabilities to the school district. In 1995, the Firm obtained a $1.1 million dollar payment, six year clean-up plan, and penalties for non-compliance with the plan, in settlement of a case arising out of groundwater contamination from an above-ground storage tank farm operated by a subsidiary of Amoco Oil. In 1994, the Firm represented the owners of the historic Denver Gasand Electric Building in downtown Denver in an action against Public Service Company for PCB contamination of the Building. The case resulted in a $5.325 million settlement for the owners.

The Firm has served as lead counsel in environmental class actions outside the state of Colorado. For example, the Firm led Wilks v. Inspiration, a case for groundwater contamination for property and well owners impacted by mining waste in Globe, Arizona against Cyprus, Magma, and Inspiration mining companies. Five years of litigation resulted in a settlement which included replacement drinking water wells, a cash payment to the class, and establishment of a rarely achieved medical monitoring program for those using the contaminated water in October, 2000.

The Firm successfully obtained certification of a class action in La Crosse, Wisconsin for a community of over 200 homes for property damage and remediation of groundwater contamination caused by a Burlington Northern Railroad locomotive facility. That case was settled resulting in a significant damage award to the class. The Firm represented the Denver neighborhood of Cook Park in a class action against Brown Group Incorporated for property damage arising out of groundwater contamination from the former Redfield Riflescope facility in Denver. The Firm received a disappointing verdict of $1,144,250 in December, 2003. The Court ordered Sanctions against Brown Group and its attorneys for discovery violations including withholding documents and information pertinent to the case, and misleading information given in deposition and answers to interrogatories. The case was appealed and a distribution to the class was made in spring 2010 after the appeal was complete.

The Firm currently serves as co-counsel representing the communities of Merrimack and Litchfield, New Hampshire against Saint-Gobain in a property damage and medical monitoring class action for contamination of ground water wells by PFOAs.

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has a special interest in protecting those who have been exposed to lead and has served as co-counsel in representing individuals whose properties are damaged by air and soil contamination from the Doe Run Smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri. St. Joe Lead Corporation, Fluor Corporation, and The Doe Run Corporation operated a lead smelting plant in the town of Herculaneum, Missouri. As a result, it poisoned hundreds of children, contaminated over 700 properties and put its workers at risk. Doe Run had violated the national lead standard in every quarter, except one, from 1978 through 2000. In 1993, the Missouri Department of Health concluded that there Ais a long term threat to public health around [the Doe Run Smelter].@ The Hannon Law Firm, LLC filed the original case as Dixon v. Fluor and Doe Run in 1995, a class action for property damage and medical monitoring in Jefferson County. After a December 2000 hearing, a judge denied certification of class.

The Firm refiled the property damage class as Doyle, et al v. Fluor, et al in 2001. The case included Ira Rennert and Renco, Inc., the new Doe Run owner who had a reputation of buying distressed industrial companies. After 19 years of litigation, including four appeals, hundreds of depositions, and dozens of motions, the case settled on the eve of trial as pretrial rulings were issued. The property owners of Herculaneum finally achieved some measure of justice as a result of a $55 million settlement with Doe Run. The Doe Run Smelter ceased operations the last day it could under its settlement agreement with EPA on December 31, 2013. It was the last primary lead smelter in the United States.

The Firm has successfully prosecuted personal injury claims for Herculaneum children as a result of the damage from toxic lead. The Firm’s Meyer, et al. v. Fluor, et al. medical monitoring class action established groundbreaking standards for medical monitoring. The Firm also helped re-establish the law of corporate officer liability in the Missouri Supreme Court.

In addition to the Doyle and other lead smelter-related cases, the Firm has brought personal injury claims for damage arising out of exposure to toxic releases from the lead waste or Achat@ piles in southeastern Missouri created from lead mining and milling. Separately the Firm has prosecuted lead paint exposure cases for individual children.

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has successfully tried and settled underground storage tank leakage cases against Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, and against Bradley Petroleum Company, and other gas station operators representing both businesses and homeowners; a soil contamination case against Coastal Petroleum in Fort Morgan; and a case involving an anhydrous ammonia spill against Arkansas Valley Co-op. The Law Firm has represented and continues to represent businesses and individuals for personal injury and property damage from mold, heavy metals, pesticides, petroleum products, and other substances, indoor air contamination and noise.

Notable Cases

Escamilla et al. v. Asarco

In Escamilla, Kevin Hannon and his co-counsel represented the Denver community of Globeville in a class action suit for contamination of its air and soil by cadmium and arsenic. Several attorney groups had rejected the case before Kevin’s involvement. The six week trial resulted in a jury verdict and the court entering judgment against Asarco for $28.1 million. This case was the first jury trial in Colorado to award the cost of cleaning up the contamination as part of the damages. The settlement reached after trial provided for clean up of the Globeville community, and money damages to the residents.

Orjias et al. v. Louisiana-Pacific

In Orjias, Kevin Hannon and his co-counsel represented families who lived next to a waferboard facility which emitted formaldehyde, MDI and wood particulates. Several attorneys had rejected the suit before Kevin’s co-counsel agreed to take the case. Kevin’s clients suffered health and property damages and eventually had to move away from the pollution. The three week trial resulted in the March, 1992 jury verdict for $2.3 million, including $1.8 million in punitive damages. Evidence from that trial was used as part of the basis for action by the federal government against Louisiana-Pacific, which included the largest fine levied by the U.S.E.P.A. at the time, and criminal charges. The Orjias verdict was upheld in its entirety through the U.S. Supreme Court.

NWIS and NRRI v. Public Service Company of Colorado

This 1998 trial resulted in a $1.8 million jury verdict on behalf of an owner and an operator of industrial property located next to the Leyden Storage facility operated by Public Service Company of Colorado. The award, which included $278,000 in punitive damages, proved a total loss in value of this 70 acre property due to the migration of natural gas from PSC’s underground storage facility. The Leyden Storage facility is the only facility for the underground storage of natural gas in the United States made from an abandoned coal mine. When Public Service then sought to take the property away by condemning the property after the jury issued its verdict, Kevin and co-counsel also successfully defeated that action. The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in its entirety.

Eagle County School District v. Paramount Communications

In 1996, Kevin served as co-counsel in claims on behalf of the Eagle County School District against Paramount Communications which owned the environmental liabilities at the Eagle Mine in Minturn, Colorado. The School District operated a middle school which was located directly adjacent to mine tailings piles. The case resulted in a payment of $1.5 million and indemnification for CERCLA liabilities to the school district.

Kramer v. Wyco Pipeline

In 1995, our Firm completed a case representing groundwater contamination from an above-ground storage tank farm operated by a subsidiary of Amoco Oil. The tanks were overfilled on a number of occasions, causing the spillage of jet fuel, kerosene, gasoline and other fuels. Our clients had suffered property and crop damage from the resulting groundwater contamination. We obtained a $1.1 million payment, a six year clean-up plan which including additional monitoring wells, penalties for non-compliance with the clean-up plan, and other benefits.

Other Cases

Antolovich et al. v. Brown Group et al., 2000 CV 1021, District Court, City and County of Denver, State of Colorado (class action for property damage from groundwater and indoor air contamination from solvents from manufacturing plant; class certified; tried to plaintiffs’ verdict; settlement resulting in distribution to the class; Hannon Law Firm, LLC sole counsel).

Crawford et al. v. Hamilton Sundstrand, 90 CV 0468, District Court, Adams County, State of Colorado (multi-plaintiff case for property damage from groundwater contamination by solvents from aircraft part manufacturer; resulted insettlement).

Doyle et al. v. Fluor et al., Cause No. 021-08641, Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, State of Missouri (class certified; property damage for airborne releases of lead and other toxins; settlement resulting in distribution to the class after 20 years of litigation; case survived four appeals; $55 million settlement).

Doyle et al. v. Fluor, et al., 128 S.W.3d 502 (Mo. 2004) (deciding venue of class action).

Doyle et al. v. Fluor, et al., 199 S.W.3d 784 (Mo. App. E.D. 2006) (class certification upheld).

Doyle et al. v. Fluor, et al., by Joseph Miller et al., 400 S.W.3d 316 (Mo. E.D. 2013) (class settlement upheld over objections).

Consumer Class Action Case Experience

Overview

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has significant expertise in prosecuting class actions for recovering damages for harm caused to large numbers of persons. As discussed above, the Firm has successfully certified, and taken to trial or settled environmental class actions in Missouri, Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin.

The Firm’s experience in class actions is not limited to environmental law. For example, the Firm served as co-counsel in a successful class action for attorney malpractice for the failure to properly settle a class case for ERISA benefits for Coastal Mini-Mart station owners. In 2003, the Firm and its co-counsel achieved class action status for claims for automobile insurance benefits against State Farm. In March, 2016 the Court appointed Kevin Hannon to be a member of the executive committee in a multi-district class action involving two companies operating daily fantasy sports web sites, marketed to residents of Colorado and other states in a manner that violates state law.

Cases

Allen et al. v. Burlington Northern Railroad, 93 CV 832, 94 CV 67 (Cir. Ct. Wis. 1999) (class action for property damage; class certified; settlement resulting in distribution to the class).

Escamilla et al. v. Asarco, 91 CV 5716, District Court, City and County of Denver, State of Colorado (class certified; tried to plaintiffs’ verdict; settlement resulting in distribution to the class).

Firestone v. Fanduel, Inc. and DraftKings, Inc, Civil Action No. 15-cv-02376-CMA-CBS. (D. Colo); transferred to In Re: Daily Fantasy Sports Litigation, Case No. 1:16-md-02677-GAO, United States District Court, District of Massachusetts (class action; status pending MDL) (class action for economic losses from daily fantasy sports participation).

Jackson et al. v. Unocal Pipeline et al., 262 P.3d 874 (Colo. 2011) (class action for property damage; class certified; certification upheld on appeal; settlement resulting in distribution to the class).

King et al. v. Sundstrand Corp., 2002 CV 2018, District Court, Adams County, State of Colorado (class action for property damage; settlement resulting in distribution to the class).

Meyer et al. v. Fluor Corp. et al., 220 S.W.3d 712 (Mo. 2007), Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District (medical monitoring claim upheld in class action).

State Farm Auto Mutual Ins. v. Rehyer, 266 P.3d 383 (Colo. 2011) (Amicus for Colorado Trial Lawyers Association in class action case).

Satsky et al. v. Paramount Communications, Inc., 7 F.3d 1464 (10th Cir. 1993) (Amicus for Colorado Trial Lawyers Association in class action case).

Satsky et al. v. Paramount Communications, Inc., 90-S-1561, (D. Colo.).

Stanley et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Civil Action No. 15-cv-02113-MJW (D. Colo)transferred to In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel”Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 3:15-md-02672-CRB, United States District Court, District of Northern California (class action for economic losses from defeat devices installed in diesel vehicles).

Wilks et al. v. Cyprus Miami et al., 2:94-cv-00275-JBM, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (class action; settlement resulting in distribution to the class).

Hazardous Products Case Experience

Overview

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC represents individuals against product manufacturers for negligent design and manufacture. The Firm has successfully brought claims against the manufacturers of medical products, bicycles, food processors, and other products. For example, in 1996 the Firm successfully completed an action against General Motors, alleging defects in warnings related to and the design of the front passenger seat and seat restraint system of a 1992 Geo Prism. The Firm’s client had suffered catastrophic injuries including both brain and spinal cord injuries. General Motors settled the case just hours before a hearing to award sanctions for GM’s failure to produce critical documents. The settlement provided compensation for the lifetime needs and damages for the Firm’s client. The Firm has represented workers against chemical manufacturers for negligent warnings, instructions, and testing. The Firm has represented persons harmed by defective medical implants.

Notable Cases

Automobile Restraint Defects

Our firm and our co-counsel successfully represented a client against a major U.S. automobile manufacturer alleging defects in warnings related to and the design of the front passenger seat restraint system. The vehicle had a two-point automatic seat belt with no passenger side airbag, and our client’s seat was reclined at the time of the accident. Our client had suffered catastrophic injuries including both brain and spinal cord injuries. The auto manufacturer required the amount of the settlement to be held confidential.

Spinal Fusion Implants

Our firm represented a client against a major U.S. medical device manufacturer for negligent manufacture and design of medical implants placed after spinal fusion. The implants both broke in our client’s back. Our evidence included inadequate finishing and alternative design and warnings. The manufacturer required the amount of the settlement to be held confidential.

Other Cases

Hoery v. United States, 64 P.3d 214 (Colo. 2003) (property damage case resulting in ruling by 10th Circuit Court of Appeals changing Colorado law regarding continuing trespass).

Hoery v. United States, 2003, U.S. App. LEXIS 6976 (10th Cir. Colo., April 11, 2003).

North Pecos Associates v. Sundstrand, 90 CV 0576, District Court, Adams County, State of Colorado (property damage resulting in settlement).

NWIS et al. v. Public Service Company of Colorado, 96 CV 2215, District Court, Jefferson County, State of Colorado (property damage case tried to plaintiff verdict, verdict upheld on appeal).

NWIS et al. v. Public Service Company of Colorado, 98 CA 1950 (Colo. App. 2000).

Brain & Spinal Cord Injuries Case Experience

Overview

The Firm also represents persons who have sustained brain and spinal cord injuries, whether from automobile accidents, falls, or other circumstances. Kevin Hannon has received special training in the mechanisms of injury, care and treatment, and special economic needs of spinal cord and head injured persons and has presented lectures in this specialized area.

Notable Cases

Automobile Accidents

We have represented restrained passengers in a variety of car and truck accidents, suffering brain and spinal injuries, other physical injuries and emotional injuries and economic loss.

Medical Transport

We represented a retired gentleman who was dropped while being transported by medical transport personnel down stairs in his home. He suffered loss of consciousness, altered taste and smell, severe memory loss and depression.

Car Accidents & Personal Injury Case Experience

Overview

The Hannon Law Firm, LLC’s clients include persons injured in automobile accidents and premises accidents, those injured by the negligence of doctors, and those suffering other physical and economic damage. As in example, in May, 2000, the Firm obtained a $535,000 judgment for an auto accident victim after rejecting the highest offer of $25,000 by the defendant’s insurer State Farm.

Notable Cases

Auto Accidents

We annually represent numerous victims of automobile accidents, with any number of vehicles, from any angle of impact, under a variety of weather conditions. Injuries have included fractures, brain injuries, paralysis, cervical strain, severe scarring and others. We have successful received recovery for lost wages, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, permanent disability, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and other serious impacts on our clients’ lives.

Anhydrous Ammonia Spill

We successfully represented a woman who was physically and psychologically injured from an anhydrous ammonia spill. A tanker truck axle’s components had been mismatched. The axle split in two, cutting a hose which leaked thousands of gallons of ammonia in a toxic cloud. The cloud trapped our client in her home, and she eventually was yanked through a window to safety.

Physical Violence

We represented a woman held captive by her boyfriend and severely beaten, who was taken to the boyfriend’s parents house by the boyfriend and his mother. Our client received brain damage and significant psychological trauma. The case resulted in a trust established to help her return to an active life.

Insurance Bad Faith Case Experience

Overview

Another area of the Firm’s practice is representing individuals and businesses against insurers for their failure to pay insurance benefits, or “bad faith.” The Firm has successfully tried and settled cases in which insurers have failed to pay automobile benefits, medical benefits, and liability coverage and when insurers have failed to defend their policyholders. Kevin Hannon has been qualified in Denver District Court as an expert to testify on insurance issues and has lectured on insurance law.

Notable Cases

Bernhard v. Farmers Insurance

We received a verdict at trial for a woman who caused an accident who was subsequently sued. Farmers unreasonably failed to settle the claim against our client, resulting in a personal judgment against her. The case establishes appellate law that insurers could not make a late offer of policy limits and escape liability for their delay in settling. We were unsuccessful in convincing the Colorado Supreme Court that the insurance company should pay the attorney fees the insured has to spend to protect herself when an insurance company unreasonably fails to settle a case.

Montgomery v. St. Paul

We represented owners of a geodesic wood shake home damaged by a hail storm. The adjuster for St. Paul insurance did not properly inspect the damage and offered less than $10,000 for repairs. The case settled for $200,000 before trial.

Other Cases

Greenfield v. Golden Rule Insurance Co., 786 F. Supp. 914 (D. Colo. 1992) (insurance bad faith).

Consumer Actions Case Experience

Overview

Kevin serves on the Steering Committee for the consolidation for all lawsuits in the country against FanDuel and DraftKings for damages for online betting in Daily Fantasy Sports. The Firm filed the only Colorado class action lawsuit against FanDuel and DraftKings. The Firm also filed the first Colorado class action against the Volkswagen entities on behalf of Colorado owners of the vehicles having the “defeat-device” diesel equipment.

Professional Malpractice Case Experience

Overview

The Firm has represented and continues to represent those who are victims of medical malpractice. The Firm has brought claims for inadequate disclosure of risks, nursing home falls, inadequate emergency care, careless surgical procedures, medication errors, and other medical negligence. In 2012, the Firm settled a wrongful death case in which it represented a child whose mother died during childbirth due to medication error. The Firm settled the claim for the child in 2011. In 2015, the Firm settled a medical malpractice case involving a severed common bile duct during surgery. Also in 2015, the Firm settled a medical malpractice case resulting in death due to a severed hepatic artery during surgery. The Firm currently represents several clients for injuries and complications sustained due to surgical errors.

Cases

Koldeway v. Schmidova, 2012 CV 1478, District Court of Larimer County, State of Colorado (medical malpractice case resulting in pre-trial settlement).

Meyer et al. v. Fluor Corp. et al., 220 S.W.3d 712 (Mo. 2007), Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District (medical monitoring claim upheld in class action).