December 20, 2018

Three Orlando residents who live near a power plant that is partially run on coal filed a putative class action in Florida state court against plant owner Orlando Utilities Commission and developers, alleging that emissions from the plant contaminated nearby properties and elevated local cancer rates.

Michelle Irizarry and two other residents said about 30,000 people were impacted by the toxic dust and particulate matter that was emitted from two coal-fired units of the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center that "have contaminated the plaintiffs' properties with carcinogenic radionuclides."

While much of the suit details the alleged increased cancer rates in the local area — including assertions that child cancer is elevated — the suit makes property damage and inverse condemnation claims.

The suit also accuses developers, including Lennar Corp., of building homes near the plant "without addressing the risks and harms posed by the contaminants and that these developers are strictly liable for damages to the properties."

"Despite the fact that these communities were built in the shadow of the Stanton Power Plant, the developers did not take adequate steps to protect residents who bought homes in the class area from the contaminants generated by the Stanton Power Plant, or take the actions needed to remediate the harms caused by the contaminants and prevent future harms from the contaminants," the complaint said.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement that testing by the legal team showed "pollution from the power plant has contaminated homes in these communities with carcinogenic toxins at levels in excess of state and federal regulatory standards."

The coal dust and residue from the plant includes "harmful organic compounds and metals that have laced plaintiffs' properties" with harmful substances, it said.

. . .

Theodore J. Leopold, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the suit was brought "after many months of investigation" and testing.

"These claims are filed with a tremendous amount of due diligence and scientific evidence," Leopold said in a statement. "The connections we've seen between the coal plant, property damage, health issues, and child cancer are astounding and should be treated as a national outrage."

The plaintiffs are represented by Theodore J. Leopold, Leslie M. Kroeger and Diana L. Martin of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Stephen Morrissey, Vineet Bhatia, Michael Brightman and Daniel Wilson of Susman Godfrey LLP.

The complete article can be accessed here.