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Judge quietly dismisses Henry vs. Dow Chemical lawsuit over river contamination

(WJRT)
Published: Aug. 8, 2018 at 12:51 PM EDT
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(8/8/2018) - A fierce legal battle over contamination caused by Dow Chemical has come to a quiet end.

The lawsuit known as Henry vs. Dow Chemical, which was filed 15 years ago, has now been dismissed by a Saginaw County judge. While the lawsuit has been thrown out, Dow continues to clean up properties it has affected.

Carol Chisholm, one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she is "very, very disappointed" with the outcome.

The legal action started in 2003 by dozens of property owners along the Tittabawassee River claiming they lost property value as a result of dioxin contamination in the soil.

The legal battle was so long that Gary and Kathy Henry, the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were no longer part of it when it was dismissed.

After a series of a rulings and appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the lawsuit was not filed within three years of when the contamination began, which was decades ago.

The case was then sent back to Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Patrick McGraw, who ruled the contamination happened well before 2000 and dismissed the lawsuit in July.

A spokeswoman for Dow Chemical says the judge's ruling agrees with Dow's long-held assertion that the original Henry complaint and all subsequent complaints were not filed within the statute of limitations period.

For the past few years, Dow has been cleaning up properties along the river by removing contaminated soil and replacing it, just like they did on Chisholm's property last year.

"We wouldn't have needed the clean-up if they hadn't contaminated it," Chisholm said.

The clean-up work on other properties continues. While Chisholm said she has spent more time out on her deck overlooking her property this summer than in the past 10 years combined, she still worries about health issues related to the contamination.

"It's always going to be in the back of my mind," she said.

Chisholm doesn't agree with the dismissal of the lawsuit.

"We should have gotten some compensation for it," she said. "This just isn't right."