Boeing agrees to pay $30 mil

first_imgThe Boeing Co. has agreed to pay $30 million to settle claims by nearly 100 neighbors of the Santa Susana Field Lab that radioactive and toxic contamination at the nuclear research site made them ill, according to confidential documents provided by one of the plaintiffs. Boeing and the plaintiffs reached agreement on the case in September, ending an eight-year legal battle with an undisclosed settlement. Now, some plaintiffs are raising concerns that the settlement award is too small to reimburse people for their personal losses and medical expenses for treating cancer and other illnesses. Margaret Ann Galasso, who now lives in Florida, will receive $35,000 from the settlement for developing uterine cancer, according to court documents she provided. But after receiving notice of a lien from the state, she worries she could owe much of that money to Medi-Cal and a private insurer, which are seeking reimbursement of their expenditures through her award. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita “I could end up losing a lot more than I gained. All (the law firms) have done is put me in the position of having to pay back Medicare and all those things,” Galasso said by phone Wednesday. The 1997 lawsuit alleged that toxic and radioactive contamination released from the field lab from the 1950s to the 1990s caused cancers, and thyroid and autoimmune disorders in residents who lived near the hilltop lab on the western edge of the San Fernando Valley. Boeing spokeswoman Inger Hodgson on Wednesday would say only, “We respect our confidentiality agreement and cannot comment.” Galasso and other members of the class-action lawsuit are also angry because of the legal fees subtracted from the total settlement. In Galasso’s case, legal fees and costs cut her original award of $87,500 by 60 percent. Barry Cappello, whose firm Cappello & Noel led the lawsuit against Boeing, said he couldn’t comment on terms of the settlement because of the confidentiality agreement and called Galasso’s revelation “destructive.” “We spent eight years fighting the Boeing Co. and we produced a result we’re satisfied with. The great vast majority of our clients are delighted.” One plaintiff contacted by the Daily News said he was pleased with the settlement while others said they could not comment because of the confidentiality agreement. As for concerns that medical insurers could lay claim to much of the settlement money, Cappello said that’s not likely. His firm has negotiated with government and private insurers on behalf of plaintiffs and had received big reductions in medical claims. Experts hired by Cappello said in court documents that they were able to find links between exposure to contaminants used in rocket-engine tests and nuclear research and illnesses among individual plaintiffs. After the settlement, Boeing denied that its operations harmed the plaintiffs and said the company settled to avoid the cost and delays of litigation. According to documents and a chart of settlement allocations provided to Galasso, Boeing agreed to pay roughly $30 million to settle the lawsuit. Attorneys took 33.57 percent, or $10 million, as their fee for legal research and roughly $8 million to cover the cost of research and expenses of the case. That left about $12 million to be divided among 133 plaintiffs, who also included family members of the 96 people who lived near the contaminated site. Plaintiff awards ranged from $650,000 for a man who was diagnosed in his 30s with multiple myeloma, or cancer of the plasma cell, to $5,000 for the grandchildren of a person who died of a brain tumor. The money was allocated to each person based on their illness, age, economic loss and other factors. For example, people who died and left young spouses or children were given more than older plaintiffs who died leaving older spouses or children. Barry Krasner lived in Woodland Hills and developed lymphoma, which medical experts hired by Cappello found could be linked to exposure to toxic chemicals from the lab. Krasner said he could not speak about the amount of the settlement he received because of the confidentiality agreement, but he could say that he was happy with the result. “With the settlement, you always think it’s going to be larger, but the amount we got was satisfactory,” Krasner said. “I’m at the point where I can enjoy some of the money and put some away for retirement.” However, many former plaintiffs felt the settlement offered little justice to the community. Lawrence “Ray” O’Connor and his wife, Margaret, were the original plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit but were cut from the case earlier this year because they didn’t have cancer or other illness linked to the Santa Susana Field Lab. Ray O’Connor said the original goal of the lawsuit was to establish a clinic or medical facility in the community for people who got sick as a result of contamination at the field lab – but that idea was dropped, along with any culpability on behalf of the company. “The idea that (the field lab) didn’t create any hardships and for Cappello to allow them to get away with it is too much,” O’Connor said. “To let them get away with a settlement like that, it’s ridiculous.” Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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