Class-Action Settlement Requires Insurers to Pay $50M in Jacksonville, Fla. Incinerator Cleanup

August 23, 2005

Insurance companies formerly insuring Jacksonville, Fla. will pay $50 million, while the city will pay $25 million, in the $75 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2003 by local residents.

The city has settled the lawsuit which claims residents were exposed to lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxins, including toxic ash produced by municipal trash incinerators the city operated from the 1910s to the 1960s.

The suit also sought damages for civil rights violations because the incinerators and ash dump burial sites were in predominantly black neighborhoods. The city agreed to expedite portions of a plan to replace contaminated soil at four ash sites.

Wayne Alford, an attorney involved in the case, told the Bradenton Herald the settlement still requires the City Council’s approval. Provisions of the settlement include expediting portions of a plan to replace contaminated soil at four ash sites and relocating some residents from the most polluted sites.

Alford said that according to the settlement, the city must pay $25 million by the end of the year, and the city’s former insurance companies would pay the rest.

Cindy Laquidara, the city’s chief deputy general counsel, said the city settled because “it makes economic sense. It’s a reasonable decision for the city.”

Several factors, such as whether they were exposed to the ash as an adult or a child, would determine how much each of the roughly 4,500 residents who joined the class-action lawsuit receive from the settlement, Alford told the Herald.

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