NEW YORK - Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. on May 17 filed a lawsuit
on behalf of more than 70 Fennville,
Mich., residents who allege that their properties have been contaminated and their
health has been harmed by chemical pollutants that have entered the environment
as a result of the Birds Eye food processing facility in their neighborhood (Michael
Barnes, et al. v. Birds Eye Foods LLC, No. 10-46699-NO, Mich. Cir., Allegan
"For decades, Fennville
residents have been contending with well water
that has been tainted with dangerous chemicals," said Robin
Greenwald, the head of the Weitz & Luxenberg
Environmental and Toxic Torts litigation unit.
The seven-count complaint alleges that for decades, the Birds
Eye facility at 100 Sherman St. has sprayed wastewater
containing chemical pollutants onto fields in the area. This spraying operation
ultimately led to hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater being absorbed
into the region's groundwater, it contends. That wastewater triggered a
chemical reaction in the soil, causing unsafe levels of manganese, arsenic and
iron to leach into the groundwater that feeds Fennville residents' wells, the
According to the lawsuit:
Birds Eye failed to take appropriate and timely action to test
the region for groundwater contamination, only beginning to do so after
receiving a 2005 order from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and
Environment. Despite the investigation, Birds Eye continues to spray wastewater
into open fields at the Fennville facility, which drains into the ground and
continues to contaminate the area's well water.
As a result of the groundwater contamination
plume, those living in homes that relied on well water have faced property damage,
reduction in the value of their homes, property values, the loss of use and
enjoyment of their property, damage to pipes and plumbing fixtures and damage
to water treatment and other home appliances that were used with the tainted
In addition, the plaintiffs risk serious health problems linked
to the unsafe levels of iron, arsenic
and manganese. Exposure to manganese in water can cause damage to the nervous
system; exposure to high levels of iron can cause damage to internal organs
such as the liver and pancreas. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen and
exposure to lower levels can cause nausea, decreased production of red and
white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm and damage to blood vessels.
& Luxenberg, founded in 1986, is one of the leading
plaintiffs' litigation law firms in America.
Download the complaint here.