Is a cluster of brain cancers and brain tumors in a small village on the shores of an Illinois lake just a random occurrence, or can the cause of those illnesses be attributed to the negligence, even the recklessness, of a chemical company with a plant about a mile north of the village?

A Philadelphia jury has been selected to hear evidence in the trial of Branham v. Rohm & Haas Co., which is expected to last for eight to 10 weeks. The main issue in Branham is whether Rohm & Haas Co., the successive owner to Morton Chemical Co., is liable for Franklin Delano Branham’s fatal brain cancer. Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Allan L. Tereshko is the presiding judge over the case.

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