Three class actions filed over black liquor spill into Pearl River

Michelle Keahey Aug. 24, 2011, 5:12am


Less than 10 days after a substance known as black liquor spilled from the Temple Inland paper mill in Bogalusa into the Pearl River, three class actions have been filed against the mill claiming the spill was a result of the mill's negligence.

On Aug. 9, 2011, the paper mill emitted toxic chemicals used to process paper products at the mill. The chemicals contaminated the Pearl River, its tributaries, Lake Pontchartrain and other waterways, the suits claim.

The first lawsuit was filed on Aug. 17 on behalf of named plaintiffs Terral Evans, Dana Evans, Charles Blanchard and Shannon Williams. The second and third lawsuits were filed on Aug. 17 on behalf of Kermit Martin, Collin Sorrel, Rodney Lee and Doyle Creel and on behalf of the Pearl River Basin Land and Development Co.

All three lawsuits were filed in Washington Parish District Court and were removed to federal court in New Orleans on Aug. 21.

The paper mill is accused of negligence for failing to discover or repair faulty or damaged equipment, failing to use proper workmanship to repair the mill, creation of a health hazard, acting in a careless and negligent manner without due regard for the safety of others, failing to adequately prepare for the possibility of emission at the mill and failing to monitor appropriate readings in a timely fashion.

The lawsuits argue that the contamination has resulted in a fear that people will suffer from a disabling or terminal disease due to the exposure, inconvenience, mental anguish, interference with the use and enjoyment of homes, buildings and properties, and property damage.

The plaintiffs' lawyers include Daniel E. Becnel Jr. in Reserve, Camilo K. Salas III of Salas & Co. in New Orleans, William H. Arata of Arata & Arata in Bogalusa, Andrew Lemmon in Hanville and Tom W. Thornhill of Thornhill Law Firm in Slidell.

Case No. 2:11-cv-02067; 2:11-cv-02068; 2:11-cv-02069

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