Hearing on Zeon Class Action Settlement Begins

by Erica Peterson on August 31, 2011

Dozens of residents of Louisville’s Rubbertown neighborhood were at the federal courthouse today for a fairness hearing in a class action lawsuit against Zeon Chemicals.

The settlement agreement offers up to $750 for those who live within a mile of the chemical plant, and up to $100 for those within one to two miles. Nine area elementary schools will get nearly $600,000 more. But the settlement also takes away certain rights of claimants to sue Zeon for future damages.

Attorneys for the several residents named in the lawsuit and Zeon’s lawyers have already agreed on the settlement. But Kentucky Resources Council attorney Tom FitzGerald was arguing against it. His client, community activist Eboni Cochran, says the settlement offers too little compensation and does nothing to reduce the risks the neighborhood faces from Zeon’s emissions.

“My priority for the settlement would have been lower emissions, it would have been community access to real-time monitoring,” she said.

Even Jonathan Tinsley, who’s named in the lawsuit, was lukewarm about the terms of the settlement.

“I don’t totally agree with the lawsuit, yet in the wording of it I’m compelled to the lawsuit,” he said.

Judge John Heyburn now has to decide whether to accept the settlement. He’s not allowed to make any changes to the agreement, but can require both sides to amend it as a condition of his approval.

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