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Federal judge allows Lakeland radiation lawsuit against Drummond Co. to go forward via The Ledger

In a ruling released late Thursday, a federal judge again has determined that a lawsuit against the developer of the Grasslands and Oakbridge communities in Lakeland alleging radiation contamination in the soil will go forward.

TAMPA — In a ruling released late Thursday, a federal judge again has determined that a lawsuit against the developer of the Grasslands and Oakbridge communities in Lakeland alleging radiation contamination in the soil will go forward.

U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich rejected all of Alabama-based Drummond Co.’s arguments cited in a motion to dismiss, and ruled that lawyers for two residents have alleged enough facts to support their claims of residual gamma radiation from Drummond’s phosphate mining and subsequent reclamation in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The lawsuit alleges that gamma radiation levels in the two developments have been measured at 11 to 21 times that of federal acceptable risk levels. It seeks compensation for cleaning up the contamination and a medical-monitoring program for residents in the 1,400-acre development.

[…]

In her court order, as in August, Kovachevich allowed legal claims to proceed that hold Drummond responsible for damages caused by contamination to the property, while recognizing that lawyers for the residents still must prove their case.

In response to the decision, Houston lawyer Mark Lanier, representing the residents, said in a prepared statement that the ruling paves the way for litigation on the issues raised the lawsuit.

“The people who have bought homes in Oakbridge and Grasslands — most often the biggest purchase of their lives — have a right to know what Drummond knew,” he said, “and more importantly, what Drummond hid from them. And we’re going to find out.”

[…]

“The court did not consider any evidence and ruled only that the plaintiffs will have a chance to prove their unsupported allegation,” said Joseph Varner III. “We are not aware of any evidence supporting any of their allegations and we do not believe they will be able to prove them.”

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