Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Delays worry cancer victims suing Pennsylvania chemical maker

You may have seen or participated in a heart, breast or lung cancer fundraising in Pennsylvania. It's less likely you've heard about glioblastoma multiforme or oligodendroglioma brain cancer. That's because the risk of being diagnosed with one of these rare, deadly cancers is hundreds of thousands to one.

There is one community where the cancers are well known. Dozens of residents in the small northern Illinois community of McCullom Lake have rare forms of pituitary or brain cancer, which many townspeople believe was caused by a negligent manufacturer.

Rohm and Haas, headquartered in Philadelphia, owned a chemical plant in McCullom Lake before the factory was bought out by Dow Chemical Company. Thirty-two small town neighbors have been diagnosed with cancer, several of whom have launched unresolved liability lawsuits against Rohm and Haas. The chemical maker is charged with contaminating the local groundwater with toxic chemicals, despite company-paid studies that claim otherwise.

Among the plaintiffs is a woman with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain cancer that doctors say should have killed her about seven years ago. The patient said she hopes to survive long enough to meet the chemical maker in court. Eleven McCullom Lake cancer victims died - a half a dozen of them after filing liability lawsuits.

The first brain cancer case reached trial in 2010 but stalled in a product liability attorneys' appeal. A Pennsylvania Superior Court has been considering the case for more than a year.

Rohm and Haas officials admit chemical dumping polluted McCullom Lake but contend the problem was inherited from earlier factory owners. The Philadelphia firm told courts that it has worked with other owners to clean up the site during the last 20 years.

Plaintiffs in product liability cases are not only victims of defective products they purchase. Compensation is available for harm caused at any stage of the design, manufacturing, distribution or sales process.

Source:, "McCullom Lake brain cancer plaintiffs fight to see appeals ruling" Kevin P. Craver, Sep. 29, 2013

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