Springdale residents' lawsuit against GenOn Power's Cheswick plant moves to federal court
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A lawsuit filed by two Springdale residents against GenOn Power Midwest alleging that its Cheswick plant is a "nuisance" to property owners for a mile around was moved from state to federal court this morning.
GenOn's attorneys wrote in their removal notice shifting the case to U.S. District Court that because the "the amount in controversy is at least $37,500,000" and the plaintiffs are Pennsylvanians while the defendant is based in Texas, the matter should be heard in federal court.
Kristie Bell and Joan Luppe filed the complaint in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in April, seeking class action status. It was not successfully served, expired as a result, was reinstated last month, and was then served on GenOn.
According to the lawsuit, at least 1,500 households near the plant are beset by "fly ash, barium compounds, copper compounds, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, hydrochloric acid ... hydrogen fluoride, lead compounds" and other substances emitted by the plant.
The plant has "installed limited technology" to reduce emissions, according to the lawsuit. As a result, residents can't enjoy life and property values are reduced, according to the lawsuit.
Attorney James DePasquale, local counsel on the lawsuit, said his firm sent surveys to Springdale and Cheswick residents "and had a couple hundred replies, almost all of which were scathing in their assessment of what was going on to their property, and some [concerned about] their health, because of that power plant."
"Many of them indicate that it's in fact getting worse," he said. "It's not being abated."
He said the lawsuit focuses on property damage rather than health effects because if it alleged health effects, "you need to have medical documentation to back it up. ... That is something that may come on down the road."
Mr. DePasquale is working with Detroit attorney Peter Macuga on the case.
GenOn's attorney, Paul K. Stockman, wrote in the removal notice that there are 1,500 potential plaintiffs and they each may seek at least $25,000 plus punitive damages. He could not be reached for further comment.
GenOn spokeswoman Karla Olsen declined comment on the lawsuit.
"In general, we do work closely with the neighborhood communities of Cheswick and Springdale, and our employees support a lot of community activities," she said, including the library, the summer reading program and the Independence Day parade slated for this evening.
First Published July 6, 2012 11:07 am