The deadline for residents of Louisville’s Rubbertown neighborhood to file a claim in a class action settlement against Zeon Chemicals is nearing. The lawsuit has been going on since 2007, and this is the third proposed settlement.
The tentative agreement would give anyone living within a mile of the plant a maximum payment of $750. For those residents living one to two miles away, the payment is capped at $100. Additional money would go to local elementary schools.
But members of community group Rubbertown Emergency ACTion are encouraging people to opt out of the settlement and refuse any money. They say it takes away their rights to sue Zeon for past or future damage caused by the company’s emissions.
Eboni Cochran is the president of REACT.
“The fact that there is nothing in this settlement that causes for a reduction in toxic chemicals is absolutely ridiculous,” she said. “I think it’s an easy way for Zeon to pay off the community for a small amount of change while the community is still exposed to an unhealthy environment.”
But Zeon CEO Tom Gettelfinger says he thinks the settlement is fair, and he hopes it will be approved during the hearing scheduled for the end of August.
“We’re hopeful that it will resolve the issue,” he said. “We understand concerns of the neighbors with air quality. We tried to communicate our priority for protecting the health and safety of our employees as well as the community.”
Those included in the settlement have until August 15 to opt in or out. If they do nothing, they’re not entitled to any money, but are still barred from suing Zeon under the same provisions as those who opt in. A judge will determine whether the settlement is fair or not during the August 31 “fairness hearing” at the federal courthouse in Louisville.
For more information, or to get a form to file a claim or opt out of the settlement, residents can call 1-800-536-0045.