Grand Rapids law firm plans to sue Wolverine Worldwide

A law firm sent an intent to sue letter to Wolverine Worldwide.

BELMONT, MICH. - A Grand Rapids law firm sent a letter on Friday, Oct. 13 of its intent to file a lawsuit over contamination at an old dumpsite now linked to groundwater contamination in Kent County's Plainfield Township.

Varnum Law recruited more Rockford-area residents on Sunday, Oct. 15 for a potential class-action lawsuit against shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide regarding chemicals traced back to its old dumpsite on House Street NE in Belmont. The claim cites the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, saying Wolverine's handling of its dumpsite resulted in imminent endangerment to peoples' health and the environment. 

The citizens want this suit to enforce environmental cleanup and protect their health, said Aaron Phelps, a partner at Varnum Law.  

"We've been representing 40 to 50 people in the area, and we've heard from many more that wanted more information [today]," Phelps said. "They were frustrated that they weren't getting answers to their questions to Wolverine."

Representatives from Miller Law in Rochester, Michigan also met with Plainfield Township residents to discuss possible claims. The firm is in the early stages of the process, said Sharon Almonrode, partner at Miller Law. 

"There are multiple causes of action, including statutory causes of action under federal law...under Michigan law," Almonrode said. "[We will look at] what they call tort liability....nuissance negligence. Those types of claims." 

Wolverine responded to WZZM 13 with a statement Sunday:

Wolverine is aware of the notice, but does not comment on potential litigation. Our focus remains on providing area residents confidence in their drinking water, as further evidenced by our decision earlier this week to provide whole house filtration systems to 338 homeowners in Plainfield Township, regardless of test results."

The filtration systems are only a stopgap solution, Phelps said. 

►Related: Wolverine Worldwide giving mixed messages on filtration system, affected families say

"Everybody needs the water filters," he said. "But that's not a solution to safe drinking water for these people."

Both firms said they are investigating the link between the PFOS chemicals from the Wolverine dumpsite and the health problems incurred by residents who drank the contaminated water. 

 

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