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One of two corporate defendants has agreed to settle medical monitoring and property value devaluation claims brought by residents of a small Northern Illinois town who claim that groundwater contamination has caused a cluster of brain cancer cases. Modine Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of heating and cooling technology with a 325-employee plant in McHenry County, Ill., and plaintiffs’ attorney Aaron J. Freiwald of Layser & Freiwald made a joint motion last week in U.S. Eastern District Court to settle the Gates v. Rohm & Haas class action. Modine has agreed to pay $2 million to the plaintiffs, according to the joint settlement motion pending in front of Judge Gene E.K. Pratter. Under the terms of the settlement, the class of residents who lived one year or more in McCullom Lake Village between Jan. 1, 1968, and Dec. 31, 2002, and have not yet had brain cancer detected or have not yet filed personal injury claims because of alleged exposure to chlorinated solvents, will receive $1.4 million, according to court papers. The settlement will allow for reimbursement of up to $1,400 per class member to obtain a magnetic resonance imaging scan to detect brain cancer. The class of people who owned property in the locality between April 25, 2006, and Jan. 18, 2008, will receive $100,000 for their property value devaluation claim. Another $500,000 will go toward attorney fees and costs of administering the settlement. Modine’s plant and fellow defendant Rohm and Haas Co.’s plants are located about one mile north of McCullom Lake Village, the 1,000-resident locality in which plaintiffs allege that their air and water has been contaminated by the industrial outputs from the defendants’ plants, according to the joint settlement motion. Freiwald argued in an interview that Modine is a minor player in the alleged environmental contamination of the plaintiff class’ community and that Philadelphia-centered Rohm and Haas and its subsidiary, Morton International, the maker of Morton Salt, have contributed the most to the alleged brain cancer cluster. “Although there are two defendants we don’t regard them as equal,” Freiwald said. He claimed: “Modine is a relatively small contributor to the contamination that gives rise to the case. Rohm and Haas is a very significant contributor. It’s a chemical company and had a gigantic chemical waste lagoon on their property for years. This is a very significant step forward in this case but Modine is a small player in the overall case.” Ralph G. Wellington of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, the attorney representing Rohm and Haas, said that this week his firm is filing an opposition to the class certification that will show, “One, Rohm and Haas has never exposed anyone in � McCullom Lake Village and two, it didn’t cause anyone in that village to get brain cancer.” Despite Modine’s decision to settle, Rohm and Haas has no intention to settle, Wellington said. “While we respect Modine’s business decision to try to get these cases behind it, we are carefully reviewing the impact the court’s approval of the settlement classes would have on the remaining defendant, Rohm and Haas,” Wellington said. Modine also has agreed to settle 22 individual actions pending in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court brought by McCullom Lake Village residents or former residents with brain cancer or liver toxicity. The proposed terms of the settlement are being kept confidential. Modine said in court papers and in a news release that it is not admitting any liability for the alleged brain cancer cluster, property devaluation and potentially hazardous chemical exposure. Modine’s counsel, Albert G. Bixler of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, declined comment beyond a Modine news release. “Although we are convinced that the scientific evidence indicates that we are in no way responsible for any of the illnesses or damages alleged to have resulted from the asserted environmental contamination, we believe it is both appropriate and in the best interest of our shareholders, employees and global business operations to settle this matter at this time,” said James R. Rulesh, a Modine vice president, in a news release. “To date, plaintiff has not identified any link between Modine and the alleged contamination of groundwater referenced in the complaint. Further, plaintiff now believes, in light of the record and expert testimony to date, that Modine was, at most, only a relatively small contributor to the alleged contamination of air asserted in the complaint,” the settlement motion said. In July, Pratter ruled that the medical monitoring claim was a compensable injury under Illinois law. In the complaint, residents of McCullom Lake Village claim that their exposure to organic compounds like trichloroethylene and dichloroethylene � which degrade to vinyl chloride, an alleged carcinogen � places them at a higher risk of developing brain cancer. Three people, who live side by side in the first row of residential homes in McCullom Lake Village, have developed deadly brain cancer, according to the complaint. The suit also alleges that over several decades the Morton plant and the Modine plant dumped millions of gallons of chemical waste in a lagoon that ultimately contaminated the town’s drinking water.

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