Amid the outcry about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, it was easy to miss another decision that might have even graver consequences for the health of American citizens. I’m referring to the Supreme Court’s decision not to review Cook v. Rockwell. Most Americans haven’t even heard of this case, yet the ramifications of the class-action lawsuit against Rocky Flats, America’s most notorious nuclear bomb factory, will have a very long half-life.
Following a shocking 1989 FBI raid on the plant for environmental crimes, more than 12,000 property owners with health and property concerns filed suit. The plaintiffs argued that “a landowner whose property is devalued because of plutonium contamination has suffered both an invasion of his property and genuine, immediate economic harm.” Never mind cancer and other health effects, which are higher than average in areas around Rocky Flats. It took nearly 20 years for Cook v. Rockwell to wind its way through the courts. In 2006, after deliberating for 17 days, a jury awarded the plaintiffs a total of $554 million. Rockwell appealed. Three judges with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision.
And now the Supreme Court has weighed in. They declined to review the case.
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