The dioxin contamination stretches 22 miles downstream of the Dow Chemical Corporation's world headquarters and manufacturing plant located in Midland, MI. The Tittabawassee River connects to the Saginaw River and then flows out to the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.
Current levels of Dioxin toxicity are over 80 times the level deemed safe for human contact in residential areas. More than 2000 properties are contaminated in an area estimated to cover 16,000 acres spanning either side of 22 miles of river. The contaminated land is covered in homes, parks, churches, schools, farms, a national wildlife refuge, and many small businesses.
This month marks the one year anniversary of the case's wait on the Court of Appeals docket.
Timeline courtesy of the Midland Daily News
March 2003: Kathy and Gary Henry of Freeland, along with 24 other residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain, file suit against The Dow Chemical Co. seeking the value of their homes, which they believe have been made worthless by dioxin contamination. They also seek the funding of a trust that would monitor their health, now and in the future, for dioxin-related effects.
June 2003: Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello hears Dow and plaintiffs' arguments for the first time. By this time, the number of plaintiffs in the suit has grown to more than 140.
August 2003: Judge Borrello streamlines the suit by removing claims for trespass, strict liability and punitive damages. He allows plaintiffs to proceed with claims for medical monitoring, nuisance and public nuisance and negligence.
October 2003: Dow files a request with the Michigan Court of Appeals, requesting a review of Borrello's decision to allow the medical monitoring claim to remain a claim in the suit. The court decides it will not hear the argument.
November 2003: A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to December.
December 2003: Dow files with the Michigan Supreme Court, requesting a review of Borrello's decision to allow the medical monitoring claim to remain a claim in the suit. A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to January.
January 2004 : A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to February, then to April.
March 2004: A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to June.
June 2004: Less than a week before the Saginaw Circuit Court is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the class action status of the case, the Supreme Court agrees to hear Dow's appeal of the medical monitoring facet of the suit. It also ordered circuit court proceedings to stop while the matter is under consideration. The stay order by the court marks the sixth delay of a class hearing.
October 2004: The Michigan Supreme Court hears plaintiffs argue that medical monitoring should be able to be pursued in court and hears Dow's defense.
July 2005: The Michigan Supreme Court rules that medical monitoring is not an actionable claim, that without injury there is no case. Plaintiffs cannot sue based on potential, but not present, disease or injury. The property portion of the suit is swung back in motion. Howard and Barbara Steinmetz, residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain who live on Midland Road, file a class action suit similar to the Henrys' but proposing a class including only residential homeowners; the Henry suit includes business and municipally-owned property.
August 2005: Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello sets Sept. 15 as the date for hearings on class certification.
September 2005: Borrello hears arguments on class status as scheduled. A decision was expected by Oct. 11. It was delayed again, this time until Oct. 21.
October 2005: Saginaw County Circuit Judge Leopold Borrello certifies the case as a class action suit, a move that draws an estimated 2,000 property owners into the action. "To deny a class action in this case and allow the plaintiffs to pursue individual claims would result in up to 2,000 individual claims being filed in this court. Such a result would impede the convenient administration of justice," Borrello wrote in his order.
November 2005 : Dow appeals the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals
November 2006 : This month marks the one year anniversary of the case's wait on the Court of Appeals docket.
Tags: Dow, Tittawabassee River, Michigan, Dioxin