Anderson vs. Cryovac, Inc. was an iconic piece of Massachusetts history that led to a pop culture phenomenon focusing on toxic tort cases around the country.
As Woburn residents took civil action against Cryovac, Inc. with the help of a Boston personal injury lawyer for contaminating the city’s drinking water through the discharge of toxic chemicals into the groundwater, citizens throughout the United States became captivated.
Woburn residents who had unknowingly consumed the contaminated drinking water would often develop cancer, liver disease, leukemia in children, and other devastating illnesses. After several discovery issues with the case, W.R. Grace and Company, who subsidized Cryovac, Inc., settled the case for an undisclosed amount that is estimated to be somewhere around $8,000,000.
Pop Culture: A Civil Action
Both a book and a movie entitled “A Civil Action” were made that were loosely based on the Cryovac, Inc. contaminated groundwater case, and both were widely successful. The story of each is the same, with a focus on the lead attorney Jan Schlichtmann who is a hotshot lawyer in Boston.
After initially refusing to take on a mother’s claim for her child’s leukemia diagnosis, Schlichtmann finds evidence of an environmental issue with the contaminated groundwater and sees the potential for a high return by taking on the case.
We won’t ruin the story for you, but in the book and the movie, the Environmental Protection Agency eventually orders W.R. Grace and Company to pay for what was the largest chemical cleanup in the history of the United States at the time: an estimated $68 million.
Other Famous Toxic Tort Cases You May Have Heard Of
Cases of innocent people being harmed by the greed of large corporations is something that catches your attention because it could happen to you. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Erin Brockovich case, where a legal clerk discovered that PG&E had contaminated the groundwater of the residents of Hinkley, California, with hexavalent chromium. PG&E was ultimately ordered to pay a settlement of $333 million to the plaintiffs.
Similarly, PG&E’s Kettleman Hills plant in Kings County, California, was also contaminated with the bad chromium, and PG&E was again ordered to pay a settlement of $335 million to the plaintiffs in this case. As long as corporate greed runs amok, personal injury lawyers will be ready to help those affected obtain the justice they deserve, and they may even be sensationalized in the same way these famous toxic tort cases were.