Tech titan concealed spread of industrial compound, a human carcinogen, linked to cancer and other diseases, according to new lawsuit
Springfield, Mo. (September 29, 2021) — The defense technology giant Northrop Grumman covered up the extent of chemical contamination in Springfield, Missouri for more than a decade, knowingly exposing residents to illegally high levels of an industrial solvent, a human carcinogen, linked to cancer and other diseases, according to a new federal lawsuit filed by the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway (Peiffer Wolf). Peiffer Wolf described Northrop Grumman’s failure to acknowledge and control the problem at a news event featuring Springfield residents whose properties were made worthless by the contamination.
Northrop Grumman acquired a Litton Industries property near the Springfield-Branson National Airport in 2001. The site remains a dangerous source of the chemical compound trichloroethylene (TCE), which Litton had used in the manufacturing of circuit boards. The federal government has connected TCE exposure to kidney and liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as damage to the immune and nervous systems, the male reproductive system, and fetal tissue.
Despite this knowledge and their legal responsibility as the site buyers to clean up the problem, the defendants concealed the extent of the contamination from Springfield residents, jeopardizing their health and destroying the value of polluted properties. Documents cited in the complaint show that since at least 2004, Northrop Grumman has known of TCE contamination of the Springfield and Ozark Aquifers that has led to contamination of private wells. Northrop Grumman has repeatedly failed to prevent TCE contamination and to properly notify Springfield residents of its spread within their community.
By hiding the fact that TCE was found in at least one private well in 2004, Northrop Grumman endangered Springfield residents for over a decade. Moreover, concealing this information prevented the community from testing their wells to monitor for TCE contamination and toxic exposure.
Peiffer Wolf managing partner Joseph Peiffer said: “Northrop Grumman knew TCE was in at least one private well in 2004 but chose to hide that from the residents of Springfield. Because of this, families were exposed to a human carcinogen and didn’t even know to test their well water from 2004 until 2020. Northrop Grumman could have stopped well owners from drinking and bathing in TCE-contaminated water, but they hid the extent of the TCE spread from the public. The families of Springfield deserve better.”
Peiffer Wolf attorney Paul Lesko said: “For years, Northrop Grumman has made reckless and incorrect assumptions about how TCE spreads. The contamination could have been even greater than we fear. Well owners didn’t know that they should be testing TCE levels in their well water for their own health or for evidence in this case. That’s why it’s so important for anyone who believes they’ve been harmed by this dangerous chemical to come forward. By hiding the extent of TCE spread from the residents of Springfield, Northrop Grumman not only allowed families to be exposed to dangerous levels of TCE for years, but they also prevented them from learning the full extent of their exposure.”
Don York and his wife Beverly York own a property in Springfield less than a quarter mile from the contamination site, where they have lived and worked since 2006. At the time they purchased their property, they were unaware that a TCE contamination site was nearby…a site that they later learned contaminated their land and the well that supplies them with drinking, bathing and cooking water. The Yorks did not learn of the contamination until 2018, when the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) found TCE in their property’s soil and well water. State officials began testing only after TCE from the Northrop Grumman site was discovered at a local tourist attraction, forcing the defendants’ hands.
Terry York, Don’s brother, passed away from kidney issues after living on the York property for seven years.
Don York said: “We put our hearts and our savings into making our property a better place to live and work from. If we’d known that TCE was going to be such a nightmare, we never would have bothered. Now we lose sleep wondering if we’ll have health problems when we get older, like my brother did. No property owner should have to endure what we’ve gone through.”
Alisha York Stradling and Jacob Stradling were tenants at Don and Beverly York’s property and ran a business from the location. They spent $125,000 on improvements before finding out about the TCE contamination.
Alisha York Stradling said: “My husband and I worked many long days and nights to invest in our small business. We hoped that our hard work would help us build a successful company. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but because of TCE, we’re living in a business owner’s nightmare. We’re stuck with an investment that will never pay off.”
Peiffer Wolf is fighting on behalf of homeowners and tenants to seek maximum compensation for the harm suffered from TCE contamination due to Northrop Grumman’s alleged negligence. Individuals who suspect that their water wells may have been polluted by TCE should contact Peiffer Wolf by filling out an online form at www.peifferwolf.com/tce-lawsuit or by calling 314-833-4827.
Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, LLP is a national law firm with offices in St. Louis, Cleveland, Youngstown, Austin, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nick DeSantis, (202) 288-9534 or [email protected].
EDITOR’S NOTE: A video of this Peiffer Wolf news event will be available on September 29, 2021, at www.peifferwolf.com/tce-lawsuit.
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Peiffer Wolf is fighting on behalf of homeowners and tenants to seek maximum compensation for the harm suffered from TCE contamination due to Northrop Grumman’s alleged negligence. Individuals who suspect that their water wells may have been polluted by TCE should Contact Us today by filling out an online contact form or by calling 314-833-4827 for a FREE Consultation.