Eastman Chemical Co., a major chemical manufacturer headquartered in Kingsport, is being sued by West Virginia store owners and residents who were affected by the disastrous Elk River spill earlier this month.
According to the plaintiffs, the $9 billion Tennessee-based engineering company hid scientific data on the cancer-causing and toxic components in 4-MCHM, their exclusive coal-processing chemical, by issuing falsified safety data sheets. The spill forced nearby businesses to shut down, hospitalized some residents and left over 300,000 people in 9 counties without drinkable water.
“The foreseeable risks of harm posed by 4-MCHM could have been reduced or avoided by reasonable instructions or warnings,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint. “Their omission renders the product not reasonably safe.”
Freedom Industries and West Virginia-American Water Co. were also named in the suit.
The personal injury claim was filed by a group of people affected by the incident, including the operator of restaurant in downtown Charleston and a number of women who had to be evacuated or medically monitored after being exposed to the contaminated water. The plaintiffs are seeking damages for themselves and others affected by the spill.
In all, 25 lawsuits related have been filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court in Charleston thus far.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the health and safety of an Eastman product has been questioned. Last summer, two affiliated plastic companies out of Austin, Texas suggested that the chemical Eastman uses in its BPA-free plastic products, called “Titan,” does induce “estrogen activity,” or EA—a lesser known type of hormone disruption which Eastman itself recognizes as harmful.
Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Eastman, citing false advertising, unfair competition, and conspiracy – however, ongoing research on the safety of non-BPA plastics continues to be unclear and troubling.
Holding Companies Liable for Unsafe Products
In order for a company to be held liable for injuries or damage from a product they manufactured, the plaintiff’s cause of action must be based on at least one of these four theories:
- Breach of warranty
- Strict tort liability
At Gilreath & Associates, we fight for consumers and families in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and all across Tennessee who are affected by negligence, defective products or toxic spills.
If you have been injured by an unsafe product or environmental contamination, we want to talk with you about your right to compensation. Submit your case details to us today.