Paducah Radiation Landowners’ Litigation

On November 2, 2007 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion reversing summary judgment in favor of the defendants and holding that the landowner-plaintiffs could pursue intentional trespass, nuisance and strict liability claims against the operators of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky for environmental contamination of their land by nuclear operations at the plant. A copy of the decision is available here.

The Law Offices of David Randolph Smith & Edmund J. Schmidt, III and James W. Owens, Esq, in Paducah, Kentucky represent 82 landowners in a lawsuit against Lockheed Martin and Union Carbide seeking compensation for nuclear contamination and reduced property values from the operations of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah Kentucky.

On August 26, 2005 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion filed by our firm asking that the Sixth Circuit certify a question of law to the Kentucky Supreme Court concerning Kentucky state law on intentional trespass and the liability for causing radioactive substances to contaminate the Plaintiffs’ property. A copy of our brief may be accessed here.

On February 16, 2007 Mr. Smith argued the case on the certified questions of Kentucky Law before the Kentucky Supreme Court asking that the justices affirm that Kentucky law is in accordance with the Restatement (Second) of Torts i/n providing a cause of action (remedy) for intentional trespass if they prove a diminution in their property values as a result of the intentional trespass.

On June 21, 2007 the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs and issued a landmark ruling that opens the way for both compensatory and punitive damages to the Plaintiffs–landowners whose properties and homes were adjacent to/near the PGDP. A copy of the opinion may be accessed here.

Originally a trial had been scheduled before U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley starting January 12, 2004. After hearings on December 22, 2003, however the court granted summary judgment to the defendants and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs reasoning that under current Kentucky law even if radioactive substances were on the properties the harm must rise to the level of a “health hazard.” The court relied on a Kentucky Court of Appeals decision, Rockwell Intern. Corp. v. Wilhite, 2003 WL 21826306, Ky.App., Aug 08, 2003.

On March 11, 2005. Plaintiffs presented their oral argument on appeal to a three judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eddie Schmidt presented the oral argument and was opposed by attorneys for Union Carbide, Lockheed Martin and Martin Marietta. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has now granted our motion for certication and the the Kentucky Supreme Court will now decide the Plaintiffs’ claims that their land is devalued because of high radiation levels.

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