Thornton Law Firm LLP is pleased to share a significant legal victory for its clients and residents of Westminster, Massachusetts. The ruling, made by United States District Court Judge Margaret Guzman in the case of Ryan et. al. v. Greif et. al., allows the majority of claims in a proposed class action lawsuit to proceed against companies accused of dumping waste containing harmful substances in the town.

In February 2023, Thornton Law Firm filed a complaint against several entities for dumping paper fiber sludge waste contaminated with harmful chemicals, known as per and polyfluoroalkyl or “PFAS” for short, in a residential neighborhood of Westminster called the Bean Porridge Hill area. The residents, who live near the dump site, claim that companies like Massachusetts Natural Fertilizer, Otter Farm, Inc., Seaman Paper Company, and 3M Company are responsible for their contaminated drinking water wells and soil products.

The lawsuit alleges that Massachusetts Natural Fertilizer, which operates on land owned by Otter Farm, Inc., and its parent company Seaman Paper Company, gathered paper sludge and waste contaminated with PFAS from Seaman Paper Company and Newark Group, Inc., among other entities. In early 2022, a nearby resident had their drinking water well tested, and discovered that
PFAS had contaminated their well. Subsequent tests of additional nearby properties, and eventually Massachusetts Natural Fertilizer’s own property, revealed significant PFAS contamination, in some instances hundreds of times over the allowable limits. Additionally, a significant number of residents bought and applied “top shelf loam” soil products from Massachusetts Natural Fertilizer, only to realize that these products were also tainted with PFAS.

The harmful substances known as PFAS are chemicals resistant to water, grease, or stains, and used in various products, including paper products. Studies suggest that PFAS may lead to illnesses such as cancer, birth defects, developmental delays, and high cholesterol. The chemicals, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” persist in the environment and can cause severe health issues.

Judge Guzman’s recent decision allows Thornton Law Firm to proceed with claims against the defendants, including seeking funding for a medical monitoring program for exposed residents. Notably, the lawsuit also includes claims against some defendants for violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), alleging a corporate conspiracy to dump toxic waste and evade regulations.

The judge’s ruling further permits claims to proceed against major chemical manufacturer 3M Company for negligence and failure to warn about the hazards of PFAS. Various other claims, including negligence, breach of warranty, and violations of consumer protection laws, can also proceed against different defendants.

Thornton Law Firm partners Leah McMorris, Christian Uehlein, and David Strouss represent the plaintiffs in this legal action and are investigating whether PFAS caused additional injuries and illnesses among the neighborhood residents. If you believe you were affected by PFAS contamination in Westminster or in your town, please contact the PFAS lawyers at Thornton Law Firm by calling 888-491-9726.