Favorable Settlement Offered in Kerr-McGee Lawsuit, as Reported By Lundy and Davis.
"This is the first toxic tort settlement of this magnitude in North Mississippi," says Columbus attorney Wilbur Colom. "Under the terms of this settlement, individuals will be allowed a limited amount of time to accept or reject the offer. I, along with all of the attorneys involved in the case, strongly recommend that the settlement be accepted."
The law firms of Lundy and Davis, Wilbur Colom and Associates, Cochran, Cherry and Givens, Turner and Associates, Rod Richmond, Merrinda Coxwell and Hal Barkley, have worked in cooperation with plaintiffs since 1999 and early 2000 to prepare the lawsuits against Kerr-McGee. Kerr-McGee is a worldwide company based in Oklahoma City. Their wood treatment plants operate in the company's Forest Products Division, which provides treatment for about 40 percent of the railroad crossties in the United States.
After three and one-half years of hard work and joint effort, more than six months of intensive negotiation, and with the upcoming trial date of July 22 in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District Mississippi in front of Judge Glen Davidson, the parties agreed to present this proposed settlement to the community. Lawyers have been presenting this settlement to clients over the last three weeks, and an overwhelming majority have agreed to accept the offer.
Columbus attorney Rod Richmond explains that the settlement offer totals approximately 50 million dollars with individuals awarded monies based upon their location to the Kerr-McGee plant and the length of time they resided at that location. In addition, he says owners of property are being compensated more than residents who did not own the property on which they resided.
Two grids prepared by scientists, along with Dr. James Dahlgren, a toxicologist, were used to calculate the settlement amounts for the group of 300 people claiming personal injury as a result of disease and for the group of 6000 suffering property damage and nuisance claims.
There have been some outside lawyers and others on the sidelines criticizing the terms of the proposed settlement. However, attorneys involved in the case who have worked closely with the citizens of Columbus and invested years of time and significant money in preparing for trial say they are aware of the negative comments, which are typical in cases of this nature. "I can't possibly understand why anyone who cares about the citizens of Columbus would discourage acceptance of this very favorable settlement offer. What could their motive possibly be? Let those people who didn't work for the people of Columbus criticize while I hand out checks to deserving people," says Colom.
"A settlement of this nature is extremely important for this community, although anytime a case is settled after this much time and hard work, the people involved often feel they should be paid more for their efforts," explains attorney Johnny Cochran, attorney for the case. "I can assure you that Kerr-McGee feels they are paying more than they should be paying. For that reason, this settlement offer represents a good compromise and assures that people will be fairly compensated."
Hunter Lundy, trial counsel for the plaintiffs, says the offer from Kerr-McGee is extremely fair. "For cases of this nature, this settlement offer exceeds the amounts paid to similar communities involving similar circumstances. Those involved in the case should look very favorably on this offer."
Attorneys and staff of the law firms for the case will continue to work in the Court Tower Square Building in Columbus and will be available to answer any questions regarding the settlement process. This offer will only be outstanding for a short period of time.
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Contact: Stephanie Young of SYCOM, +1-337-540-2788, for Lundy and Davis