Judge's surprise ruling revives 2nd Apollo nuclear lawsuit
In a stunning reversal, a federal judge in Pittsburgh overturned a ruling to keep alive a second federal lawsuit alleging harmful radioactive emissions in Apollo.
Judge David Cercone ruled Thursday that primary expert testimony on behalf of more than 75 plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit first filed in 2010 can still stand for an upcoming trial.
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. The plants operated from about 1957 to 1986.
“This was a substantial victory for the plaintiffs,” said Steven Baicker-McKee, an assistant professor of law at Duquesne University, who has 25 years in private practice handling toxic tort, environmental and energy-related litigation.
“The bottom line is that all of the experts can go to the jury,” he said.
Such a reversal is unusual, according to Baicker-McKee.
Last July, Robert C. Mitchell, a U.S. magistrate judge, threw out the plaintiffs' primary expert testimony.
During pretrial motions, attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants had been fighting over expert reports on whether radioactive emissions from the now-razed nuclear fuel plant in Apollo caused death and personal injury.
Those proceedings weed out “junk science,” with the court acting a gatekeeper, according to Baicker-McKee.
Apparently, Judge Cercone's ruling confirms that the plaintiffs' experts have met the threshold to go to a jury.
“We are pleased with the ruling,” said Jonathan Orent with Motley Rice's Rhode Island office, the lead plaintiff attorney.
“This will help our clients move forward with the lawsuit and get them their day in court,” he said.
Calls to attorney representing the defendants were not returned immediately Thursday.
The companies have always claimed that nuclear operations did not pose harmful conditions outside of the plant.
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.
- Harmar police make 2 drug arrests as part of crackdown on crime
- Alle Kiski Strong Chamber makes itself at home in Pittsburgh Mills mall