NAPERVILLE, Ill. — After hearing evidence for five months and deliberating for weeks, a jury issued a second verdict of no liability in favor of R.R. Street & Co. Inc. yesterday, effectively putting an end to a more than decade-long contamination-cleanup case.
The suit was filed in 1998 by the City of Modesto, Calif., and sought more than $162 million in damages and costs from multiple defendants for the perchloroethylene contamination of city drinking water.
Modesto named dozens of defendants in the suit over time, including local drycleaners, distributors, and manufacturers of equipment, solvents and supplies, including R.R. Street. Street now faces no liability with respect to its Staticol, Puritan and PerSec products.
The jury found two other defendants — perchloroethylene manufacturers Dow Chemical Co. and PPG Industries —liable for compensatory damages of $18.32 million; prior settlement credits from other parties are expected to offset the award. Vulcan Materials settled with Modesto out of court in 2007 for $20 million. The only other remaining defendant, distributor Goss-Jewett, was found not liable and is no longer in business.
“Although this lawsuit has been a tremendous drain on our company’s financial and human resources for more than a decade, we believe the ultimate vindication of the company and its products justifies the expenditure of these resources,” said Ross Beard, Street’s chief executive officer. “The company’s vigorous defense against meritless claims in this and other lawsuits is of vital importance, not only to Street, but also to the industry as a whole.”
“R.R. Street & Co. Inc.’s success can be greatly attributed to outstanding legal representation by Houston-based Hicks Thomas LLP,” Beard added. “John Thomas and his team worked tirelessly and effectively to present the evidence and argument that resulted in the jury’s favorable verdict for Street.”