ALTON — Law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy announced on Tuesday the $4.26 million preliminary settlement of a class action lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs whose homes were polluted by harmful emissions coming from a Granite City steel mill.
Residents living near the mill claimed airborne particles were released into the atmosphere and onto their properties during the mill’s operation. Third Judicial Circuit Judge William A. Mudge granted preliminary approval of the settlement in the putative class action Aug. 28. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit on Nov. 10, 2014, against the coke plant owned and operated by defendants SunCoke Energy Inc. and Gateway Energy & Coke Company LLC (SunCoke), and the steel mill owned and operated by United States Steel Corp. (U.S. Steel). The hearing for final approval of the settlement is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2018.
“This is a fair and welcome victory for our clients who, for years, had their homes and fresh air needlessly polluted when proper management by the steel mill and the coke plant could have prevented the issue,” said law firm shareholder Ted N. Gianaris, who served as co-lead attorney along with law firm attorney Jo Anna Pollock to represent the plaintiffs.
SunCoke produces a raw material called coke, which U.S. Steel uses to manufacture steel. During their operations, SunCoke and U.S. Steel regularly released into the atmosphere substantial amounts of particles that leave a silty deposit on neighbors’ properties and cars — sometimes even getting inside their homes. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants negligently failed to capture emissions and failed to store and properly transport coke.
From November 2009 until the lawsuit was filed, surrounding residents experienced annoyance and discomfort, including an inability to fully utilize and enjoy their homes.
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).
The settlement class includes anyone who occupied property in a predetermined geographical area from Nov. 10, 2009, to present. Potential class members are encouraged to review the website or call (844) 798-3651 toll-free to determine the settlement class area.
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, plus contributed $225,000 to the St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition. The alleged violation concerned excessive bypass venting of hot coking gases directly to the atmosphere, resulting in excess SO2 and particulate matter emissions from the facilities’ waste heat and main stacks, in violation of applicable EPA permit limits.
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. Read more at simmonsfirm.com.
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