Spill settlements questioned in Paulsboro
February 20, 2013By Tom MacDonald
Settlements are being offered to resolve last year's Conrail chemical spill in Paulsboro, New Jersey. It appears the residents are not being given a chance to take the offer to a lawyer.
The settlement offers start at $500 and go up, but are designed to clear the rail provider of all future claims. Attorney Mark Cuker, who represents over 600 Paulsboro residents in a class action suit, advised his clients not to take it.
"They are asking people to sign away their rights for life no matter what happens in the future with their health they cannot make a claim again," said Cuker. "There are many facts about what happened those days that we don't know, we still don't know the full extent of the exposure."
Conrail spokesman Michael Hotra says the company is offering residents an opportunity to put the incident behind them.
"Before any claim is resolved every claimant is fully informed about pending class action lawsuits and is made aware of settling any claim through this process impacts the claimants ability to participate in litigation," said Hotra.
Hotra would not comment on reports that those agreeing to the deal are barred from keeping a copy of what they're signing.
Cuker says people should be very careful. "They are putting a clause in parent's document that makes the parents financially responsible if the kid grows up and sues Conrail. The kid is free to make a claim against Conrail if the child does though the parent is on the hook to pay Conrail back for the claim. So they are going to use that as leverage to say don't sue us because your parents are going to have to pay us back anyway."