A Florida federal judge will allow Orlando-area residents to proceed with most of a proposed class action alleging that Lockheed Martin Corp. fumbled the handling of toxic chemicals at a facility near their homes, deciding the allegations are not just “flash over substance.”
U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton rejected Lockheed’s attempt to characterize the lawsuit as a shotgun complaint full of “conclusory, vague and immaterial facts.” The residents, who live and work near a Lockheed weapons manufacturing plant, allege that the American defense industry giant contaminated the air, soil and groundwater for decades by storing toxins in leaking tanks, transporting them in leaking pipes and “dumping them in trenches.”
Lockheed sought to dismiss the suit as overly broad, pointing to a section of the complaint that lists a wide range of pollutants and substances and then alleges that they are dangerously present near the weapons manufacturing facility and harmful. But the judge said only the residents’ claim that the contaminants cause serious health issues and that a fund should be set up for medical monitoring needs more specifics, letting the rest of the complaint move forward.
The complaint alleges that Lockheed Martin contaminated the region with chemicals such as methylene, chloride and others over decades beginning in the 1950s. It says the company demonstrated “stunning indifference to environmental protection and human health.” The company’s efforts to treat the nearby area “have perversely increased the risks of exposure,” according to the residents. It claims strict liability, private nuisance and negligence, among other claims.
The company said there wasn’t “credible evidence” that the facility had caused anyone harm and it will fight the allegations.