On June 23, 2020, the Honorable Roy B. Dalton, Jr., for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, denied Orlando Utilities Commission’s (OUC) motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, rejecting OUC’s claim that it is entitled to sovereign immunity. Prior to that, the court denied homebuilder Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, which argued that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by a 10-year statute of repose that applies to actions founded on the construction of improvements to real property. 

On August 8, 2019, the Court denied, in large part, Defendants’ motion to dismiss, allowing Plaintiffs to pursue the bulk of their claims in this putative contamination and property damage class action against OUC for allegedly contaminating the properties of more than 30,000 residents with toxic byproducts from the utility’s coal-fired power plant at the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center.

Case Background

Oriiginally filed on December 20, 2018, Cohen Milstein and Co-Counsel filed a putative contamination and property damage class action against Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), a municipally-owned public utility providing electric and water service to Orlando citizens, for allegedly contaminating the properties of more than 30,000 residents with toxic byproducts from the utility’s coal-fired power plant at the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center.

Plaintiffs, residents of Stoneybrook, Avalon Park, Eastwood, and other communities in the area immediately north of the power plant, argue that they and other residents have been deprived of fair use of their properties and need remediation to prevent future harm. Plaintiffs also allege that developers of this area — including Lennar Corporation, U.S. Home Corporation, Avalon Park Group Management, Inc., and the principal of Avalon Park Group, Beat Kahli, are liable for property damage as they marketed, developed, built, and managed neighborhoods in the shadow of the OUC’s coal-fired plant without warning residents of the severe health risks while also failing to address the significant pollution.

The lawsuit was filed after months of investigation and testing. Test results of soil samples conducted by experts on behalf of the plaintiffs’ legal team revealed that pollution from the power plant has contaminated homes in these communities with carcinogenic toxins at levels in excess of state and federal regulatory standards critical to protecting human health. The OUC purchases its coal for the Stanton Power Plant from the Illinois Basin, which has the highest radioactivity of any coal in the continental United States.  The plant emits coal combustion residuals, coal dust, harmful organic compounds, and metals that have laced plaintiffs’ properties with carcinogenic radionuclides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, including Benzo(a)Pyrene (“BaP”) and metals in concentrations exceeding federal and Florida regulatory standards. In addition, studies also found the presence of high levels of polonium—a highly radioactive byproduct of coal ash associated with a range of cancers, genetic disorders, and other adverse health effects.

Plaintiffs seek damages on behalf of themselves and the putative class members in the form of damages for impairment of their property; compensatory damages; permanent injunctive relief; the prompt testing, assessment, excavation and removal of all radioactive waste and related contaminants from the properties.

The Plaintiffs are represented by Cohen Milstein's Leslie M. Kroeger, Theodore J. Leopold, and Diana L. Martin; and Vineet Bhatia, Steve Morrissey, Michael Brightman, and Daniel Wilson of Susman Godfrey, L.L.P.

The case is styled: Irizarry, et al. v. Orlando Utilities Commission, et al., Case No.6:19-cv-00268, United States District Court, Middle District of Florida

Media Inquiries: Dean Pearce at 646.992.8312/ cohenmilstein@berlinrosen.com