Searcy Denney Files Lawsuits on Behalf of Florida Cancer Cluster Victims

Amid Concern over Ongoing Health Risk, Firm Will Hold Press Conference to Advise on Public Safety Measures

Aug 16, 2013, 14:07 ET from Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA (Searcy Denney) has filed individual injury and death claims and a class action to address property value losses on behalf of clients living in the residential Acreage community of Palm Beach County. The Acreage was confirmed in 2010 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a brain cancer cluster during the period 2004-2007, after the Florida Department of Health reported a significant increase in pediatric brain tumors among children living in the Acreage community.

Named in the suits are the Pratt & Whitney Group division of United Technologies Corporation  (Pratt Whitney)  and Palm Beach Aggregates, Inc. (the Aggregates), which operates mining interests on land adjacent to the Acreage.

The filing of the suits follows Searcy Denney's investigation of the Acreage health problems, which the firm has actively pursued for the past four years, and comes closely on the heels of the firm's recent private testing of Acreage well water by Pace Analytical Laboratory. That testing disclosed the presence of both Technologically Enhanced concentrations of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TE-NORM) and non-naturally occurring radioactive materials in concentrations that, in some cases, significantly exceed the U.S. EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL). These findings were analyzed and confirmed by Boston Chemical Data Corp. There is no plausible explanation for the results other than industrial contamination.

Searcy Denney immediately reported these latest findings to the Florida Department of Health. So far, the response has been inadequate as the Department has not stated any specific action that will be taken. Searcy Denney also delivered an urgent letter to the defense counsel in a pending Acreage wrongful death case requesting a collaborative, non-adversarial effort to further investigate this potential health problem and to appropriately advise the public. The defendants declined the invitation. 

"We understand the serious problems associated with the filing of our new claims and the public release of these test results, having lived through the community reaction that followed the initial cancer cluster designation," said Jack Scarola, a Searcy Denney lawyer representing the plaintiffs in this matter. "However, the confirmation of radioactive contamination and the strong evidence of an ongoing public health risk compel us to share this information with everyone who may be exposed

"Searcy Denney is therefore taking the proactive step of holding a press conference to communicate our health concerns so that area residents can take appropriate measures to protect themselves."

"While we have significant clinical information at hand, the seriousness and geographic scope of the present threat, and the extent to which contamination is occurring on an ongoing basis, is still being investigated," added Searcy Denney attorney Mara Hatfield. "We know that a historical contamination existed. As alleged in the lawsuits we filed, this historical contamination caused the cancer cluster and the injuries our clients have already suffered. We have taken appropriate action to preserve their rights. However, if there is an ongoing source of radiation, or if the threat has diminished but will recur every time there's an adverse weather event, then we need all the help we can get to isolate and remediate the problem, and to provide the public with the protection and guidance it must have."

The suits claim that Pratt Whitney failed to safely use and maintain potentially cancer-causing radionuclides and emitted these materials into surface and ground waters in the Acreage. The suits also claim that, from 2003 until September 2008, the Aggregates continued a dredging process that increased dangerous TE-NORM levels.

"Searcy Denney expects to continue to periodically update the public as needed," said Scarola. "Hopefully, we won't be standing alone at those future press conferences, and state and federal agencies along with the companies involved will see fit to join us."    

An Advisory will be sent to all media on Monday, August 19, confirming the time and place of the press conference. A media packet detailing the recent test results and including information on the suits filed by Searcy Denney, as well as a list of recommended safety measures for area residents, will be distributed. The media packet will also include copies of correspondences related to the requested participation of defense counsel in the press conference.

An electronic copy of the newly filed cases is available upon request.

About Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA

A nationally recognized trial law firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A. is committed to protecting victims of negligence, defective products and corporate wrongdoing. Over the past 35 years, the firm has represented clients in courtrooms throughout Florida and across the nation.

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