June 15, 2006

City of Modesto Awarded $175 Million

A San Francisco jury Tuesday imposed punitive damages of $100 million against Vulcan Materials Co. and $75 million against Dow Chemical Co. in a lawsuit brought by the city of Modesto over groundwater and soil contamination.

The state court jury Friday awarded $3.17 million in compensatory damages against Vulcan, Dow and other defendants. The jury also imposed $75,000 in punitive damages against R.R. Street & Co., a maker of dry-cleaning chemical and laundry equipment. Modesto said the defendants had polluted the local groundwater and soil with a compound used in dry cleaning.

Vulcan and Dow said that the verdict was contrary to the evidence and that they would appeal. R.R. Street also said it would appeal. The verdict is the third largest in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The suit alleged that the use of perc in dry cleaning in Modesto resulted in soil and groundwater contamination based on conduct by the defendants from the 1960s through the 1980s.

The defendants denied responsibility for contamination.
Another related story
Lodi vs. Modesto: A tale of two cities' toxins lawsuits, by Jeff Hood


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