Judge nixes health testimony in nuke plant suit
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Saturday, July 13, 2013, 1:36 a.m.
The magistrate judge in the federal lawsuit alleging death and injury from radioactive emissions in Apollo has recommended throwing out the primary expert testimony from the plaintiffs' health experts.
The recommendation by Robert C. Mitchell, a U.S. magistrate judge, filed on Friday, indicated that the case is at an end when such expert testimony cannot be presented.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal.
Mitchell's recommendation is the latest action in the 2010 lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh filed by more than 75 Apollo-area residents, claiming that radioactive emissions from the former nuclear fuel plant in Apollo caused cancer and other illnesses, killing some people.
The defendants are Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group and the Atlantic Richfield Co., which operated a uranium fuel-processing plant founded by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., or NUMEC, in Apollo and a plutonium plant in Parks from about 1957 to 1986.
“We're very disappointed with the recommendation made by the magistrate,” said Jonathan Orent with Motley Rice's Rhode Island office, the lead plaintiff attorney.
“However, we intend to object to it and are committed to continue the fight for our clients,” he said.
“A magistrate had made recommendations to the federal judge for these cases, which is Judge David Cercone, who we will ask to make the ultimate ruling on these issues,” Orent said.
Calls to the defendants were not immediately returned Friday evening.
For the first half of 2013, attorneys have been arguing about what expert testimony will make it to a jury trial.
It's been a battle of the experts as attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants fought over whether radioactive emissions from a now-razed nuclear fuel plant caused death and personal injury in Apollo.
In Friday's recommendation, Judge Mitchell ruled against the plaintiffs in seven out of eight motions filed.
Among the expert testimony that Mitchell recommends throwing out was that of James Melius, a physician and doctor of public health. Melius serves as chairman of the federal Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, which provides oversight on the federal program to compensate former Department of Energy nuclear facility workers who have developed cancer. He also is chair of the steering committee of the World Trade Center Responder Medical Programs.
Judge Mitchell wrote: “At the hearing, Dr. Melius (called by Defendants as a hostile witness) testified that, although all Americans are exposed to hundreds of millirems of ionizing radiation every day, adding up to thousands of millirems over the years, he believes Plaintiffs received ‘substantially' more than background radiation, yet he could not quantify this amount.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Owner of Natrona Heights store indicted for food stamp fraud
- Classic novel, new film share similar titles, not much else
- More people choosing traditional Christmas tree, growers say
- White Oak woman charged in police chase case
- Suspected burglar awaits extradition from Ohio
- Knoch High School, Penn United may join forces for tech class
- East Deer to buy $61,000 dump truck
- Casey wants answers on nuclear cleanup shutdown
- Suspect eludes Freeport police by jumping into Buffalo Creek
- Owner of former Medrad facilities cuts 200 jobs in U.S., EU
- Butler County hunter found dead in Cowanshannock