The lawsuit started out as a 10-page complaint filed by a group of farmers in December 2009, over a chemical, hexavalent chromium.
The complaint alleged the defendants allowed that chemical to contaminate fertilizer that was spread on the plaintiffs’ land. Prime Tanning were previously cleared of all charges in an earlier trial brought by local residents. Trivalent chromium is used in the manufacture of leather.
The farmers claimed there was a cover-up about whether the chemical was in the fertilizer. And the complaint alleged that the chemical process designed to prevent the chemical from appearing in the fertilizer allegedly failed.
The original defendants were Prime Tanning Co, a Missouri-based company, which had a St Joseph plant; Prime Tanning Corp, a Maine-based company that owns the Missouri company, National Beef Leathers Co, a Missouri-based company that bought Prime Tanning Co.’s St. Joseph plant; Wismo Chemical Co, a Missouri-based company; and Elementis, a Wisconsin-based company; as well as Burns McDonnell Engineering Co, a Missouri company.
Lawyers filed thousands of pages of paperwork that now take up several file drawers in the circuit clerk’s office, resulting in only one defendant being left in the case, Burns McDonnell. Elementis recently obtained a summary judgment, saying there were no material facts in dispute and that it was not liable for damages as a matter of law.
The plaintiffs didn’t pursue the other defendants because of bankruptcy proceedings.
The defendants all denied the claims, stating they were without information or knowledge sufficient to form a belief as to the truth or falsity of the allegations.
The plaintiffs sought an amount greater than $25,000 from the remaining defendant for actual damages, an unspecified amount for punitive damages and recovery of the lawsuit costs. No details have been released about the nature of the settlement.
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