A Florida man who says Pratt & Whitney created a pollution and cancer cluster told the 11th Circ. that a federal district court improperly excluded three experts who said toxins from the company’s property caused the kidney cancer that killed his wife.
Jeffrey Haberman, who represents plaintiff Marcos Pinares said panel that the district court erred in tossing the expert testimony of three doctors who determined that the toxins from a rocket and aerospace testing site that contaminated the water near Pinares’ Palm Beach County home caused the kidney cancer that killed Pinares’ wife, Magaly.
One expert, Lawrence Wylie, determined that anyone who lived in The Acreage, the residential development where the Pinareses lived, was three times more likely to develop kidney cancer than a nonresident. To do this, he assessed a dose response to the toxins in the water, a widely accepted methodology in the toxicology field that involves evaluating the dose required to produce an effect.
The Pinares lived in the 16,000-lot Palm Beach County development known as The Acreage, which residents say has dirt contaminated with the radioactive element thorium from the Pratt & Whitney rocket testing site. The Pinares’ home is about 8 miles from the Pratt & Whitney property.
Dirt from the testing site was used as fill to construct the development’s 1.25-acre home sites in the 1990. That dirt contaminated the area’s water, caused a cluster of pediatric cancers and tanked property values.
In March, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, who is also overseeing the Pinares case, disqualified three key expert witnesses in the property values case, including a geologist, a toxicologist and a dosimetrist or dose-response expert.
The Florida Department of Health designated a cancer cluster concerning girls in the area in the mid-2000s. The consolidated personal injury suits included, for example, that of a 13-year-old diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, who later died from its spread.
Pratt & Whitney, now part of Raytheon Technologies Corp. after an April 2020 merger, points to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s investigation into The Acreage, which found that there was no indication of hazards and that the water was good. The company also says it has no sign of water traveling more than a quarter mile from its property.