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 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.
But Daniel McElroy, who represents Pratt & Whitney, said that at the time the experts in question came to the conclusion that toxins in the water had caused Magaly Pinares’ cancer, they had not done the proper dose response assessment. They needed to have ruled out every other possible cause of the cancer and then “ruled in” the toxins via the dose response assessment, but that’s not what happened here.
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 1990s. That dirt contaminated the area’s water, caused a cluster of pediatric cancers and tanked property values.
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.