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3rd Circuit Finds Class Action Inappropriate In Vinyl Chloride Exposure Case

In Gates v. Rohm & Haas Co. et al, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 17756 (3rd. Cir.: 8/25/11), Plaintiffs were residents of a primarily residential area of approximately 2,000 people and 400 homes.  Defendant chemical companies owned and operated a facility one mile north of of the village. 

The plaintiffs alleged that defendants dumped wastewater containing vinylidene chloride into a nearby lagoon that seeped into an underground aquifer where it degraded into vinyl chloride (a known human carcinogen) ("VC").  Plaintiffs contended that VC evaporated into the air from the shallow aquifer and was swept by the wind over the village.  Plaintiffs sought certification of two classes: (1) a class seeking medical monitoring for village residents exposed to the airborne VC between 1968 and 2002, and (2) a liability-only issue class seeking compensation for property damage from the exposure.  The District Court denied the class certification, finding that individual issues predominated, and thus barred certification under FRCP 23.  The plaintiffs appealed.

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Free Download available of the Third Circuit's ruling in Gates v. Rohm & Haas Co. et al.