Ametek Can’t Shake Elementary School Contamination Suit

By Peter Hayes

A teacher and students at a Southern California elementary school presented enough exposure and causation evidence to proceed with claims stemming from a toxic plume that migrated from an adjacent industrial site, the Southern District of California ruled ( Trujillo v. Ametek, Inc. , 2017 BL 246482, S.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-1394, 7/17/17 ).

The ruling allows a proposed class action to proceed against Senior Operations LLC and Ametek, Inc., the current and former owners of a factory next to Magnolia Elementary School.

The suit isn’t frivolous merely because the California Department of Toxic Substances Control has concluded that Magnolia’s occupants don’t face any human health risk as a result of the underground plume, the court said.

The plaintiffs met their burden by presenting expert reports stating they were exposed to “a significant level of chemical toxins that has increased their risk of developing certain health problems,” the court said.

The complaint alleges that toxins in an underground waste storage tank leaked, causing a plume containing trichloroethylene, benzene, toluene and other contaminants to spread to the school property.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as medical monitoring costs.

The court in June 2016 issued a case management order requiring each named plaintiff to make a showing of exposure, increased risk of specific injury and causation, but did not require that such a showing be made as to any of the putative class members.

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel issued the opinion.

Baron & Budd PC represents the plaintiffs.

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP represents Ametech.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, represents Senior Operations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at

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