When a developer proposed replacing seven city-blocks’ worth of rundown homes in the southern part of Kansas City with an $80-million retail project to be called Citadel Plaza, officials in our neighboring state were enthusiastic. The thrilling prospect of bustling redevelopment, however, has long since been replaced by the dismaying reality of 35 acres of new brownfields right in the city. Brownfields are parcels of land that can’t be developed because they’re contaminated, and Citadel Plaza is newly polluted with asbestos.
A Missouri man just filed a potential class-action lawsuit against Empire District Electric Co., seeking medical monitoring after the company allegedly knowingly exposed workers at its Riverton plant to asbestos and other hazardous materials. The case is particularly interesting because the plaintiff is not sick. In fact, no allegations have yet been brought forward claiming any asbestos-related disease or other illness, but the man contends that he and other workers deserve to have their health monitored for those issues.
In a recent landmark ruling, a Missouri judge ruled that a company named as a defendant in an asbestos case may not reserve the right to autopsy the plaintiff in the event that he succumbs to the mesothelioma that is at the center of his case. The judge gave several reasons for denying the defendant company's autopsy motion, the most significant being that the plaintiff is not deceased, and that he will likely still be alive when his mesothelioma trial starts in the next few months.
As the residents of the battered town of Joplin, Missouri, continue to clean up from the devastating tornado that struck the city last month, there may be a new hazard to worry about. With over 8,000 destroyed structures throughout the region, it is likely that many of the materials being cleaned up and hauled away contain asbestos or similar materials, potentially placing residents and cleanup crews in danger of asbestos exposure and at risk of mesothelioma, lung cancer, or related diseases.