A slew of last- minute
lawsuits have been filed against Imperial Oil and two other companies by
residents who claim contaminated soil in Lynnview Ridge seriously affected
their health and the health of their children.
The 20 lawsuits
— each seeking $300,000 in non- pecuniary damages and an undisclosed
amount of compensation for loss of income — were filed Friday by the
Calgary law firm Docken and Company It
was the final day available for residents of the southeast neighbourhood to
file suits before the two-year deadline passes.
The suits come as the
few remaining residents still living on the ridge mark the second
anniversary of the discovery of high levels of lead and hydrocarbons in the
community’s soil. They claim Imperial, Devon Estates Ltd. and
Glenayre Technologies had a hand in health problems they allege were caused
by the contamination left behind when the former refinery tank farm site
More than half of the
suits relate to health problems sustained by children who grew up in the
Imperial Oil would not
comment on the new claims, which have yet to be proven in court.
The suits are not the
first to be filed against the companies with regards to Lynnview Ridge.
Twenty separate law suits filed back in November claim the companies
knowingly built homes on contaminated land, stating residents were left out
of pocket be cause of plummeting property values.
The largest of those
claims is for $3.15 million, by Lynn view Ridge Residents Action
Committee president Tim Mather.
Most claims average
Imperial Oil has
always disputed those allegations, denying its actions have resulted in
lower property values in Lynnview and saying it did every thing required of
it when the land was redeveloped.
The company has also
vigorously defended itself against claims people have fallen ill be cause
of lead and hydrocarbons in the soil.
The Calgary Health
Region is also adamant there are no grounds to link elevated levels of lead
and hydrocarbons in the soil with a health hazard in the community
Vaughn Marshall, who
will act as lead counsel for the residents, confirmed Friday the 20 claims
had been filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary. He would not comment further
until all parties had seen the statements of claim.
It is not known when
the law suits will be heard.
Health has long been
an issue in the Lynnview Ridge community, ever since lead was first discovered
in the neighbour hood in the early 1990’s, then rediscovered at
higher levels in May2001.
Affidavits were filed
earlier this year claiming five youths from four different Lynnview
families suffered from attention-deficit disorder or other learning difficulties.
However, this is the
first time residents have sought compensation for health problems they
believe w e r e caused by lead and hydrocarbons in their soil.
Gavin Fitch, the
lawyer who has acted for the Lynnview Ridge Residents Action Committee for
the past two years, said most claims date back to when the children were
much younger and played in the contaminated soil, and not to any current or
(lawsuits) relate to their children and having ADHD (attention deficit
hyper activity disorder) as a result of growing up in the
neighbourhood,” said Fitch.
asked the questions, ‘What’s my health really like? And how
sick am I?’ The majority of people on the ridge aren’t making
health claims. We’ve never contended that everyone up there (is) sick
— that’s just not the case.
“But there are a
few families to whom it is a real issue.”
criticism that those families with health concerns contradict their
argument by continuing to live in a community they believe is a health
He said most of the
suits re late to illnesses that date back several years, when children were
much younger and more susceptible to problems caused by contaminated soil.
“If that is the
claim, the dam age is done,” he said.
“Many of these
kids are now older. in terms of ongoing risk, if the claim is my children
played in this dirt when they were two years old and got ADHD,
there’s not really any ongoing risk.
incredibly difficult position. They are concerned about their health, but
they also have to think about their losses if they leave. It’s easy
for some one to say they should just cut their losses and leave but if they’re
facing losses of $300,000, that’s a lot of losses to cut.
“In some cases,
they want to leave, but they don’t have the money to do that.
They’re facing this dilemma right now.”
spokesman for Imperial Oil, said his company cannot comment on the
possibility of further lawsuits until the company is served with the suits.
“We’re not able to comment on any potential lawsuits until
somebody brings it forward and actually serves us,” he said.