Over the last two decades, some of the plant’s neighbors began to complain of respiratory problems. Others had pink eye and blamed it on the sawdust that emanated from the plant. More and more residents came forward, some of them former employees of Trus Joist, claiming cancer, heart disease and strokes — illnesses, they said, caused by toxic chemicals in the wood adhesive that permeated the air and ground water.

Natchitoches trial attorney William Crews filed a class action suit against the company in June 1998, Joe Clark, et al. v. Trus Joist Macmillan, et al. (836 So. 2d 454), alleging that plaintiffs suffered physical injury and property damage from living in the vicinity of the plant.