The Lawsuit 

See also //WL

1980s: Remediation and Lawsuit

Anne Anderson and other families in Woburn met with attorney Jan Schlictman in 1981 to discuss the possibility of a lawsuiit.

In 1984 Anne Anderson testified at hearings chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy. Reverend Bruce Young, Anne Anderson, and other Woburn parents spoke about their concerns and the significance of the studies in the hope that they would provide funding to clean up the nation's worst toxic dumps.

President Reagan was proposing to downsize government, and a massive budget deficit loomed in the background. Nevertheless, the testimony of Woburn parents and panic-stricken residents of Love Canal, NY put a human face on the need for a national cleanup. Superfund, the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) became a law in 1980 and was later funded with 9 billion dollars.   (video)

In 1982, a formal complaint against W.R. Grace, Beatrice Foods (Riley Tannery), and UniFirst was filed by Anne Anderson and seven other plaintiffs. The defendants denied that they had caused the pollution of the wells and that the contaminants, primarily TCE, were responsible for the leukemia cases.

Remediation of the Superfund sites began, with the intention of making the water in Wells G and H of potable quality at some time as far as 50 years in the future. In 1988, EPA concluded its own detailed investigation that demonstrated that groundwater contamination came from five properties located around the municipal wells, designating roughly $68 million to cleanup costs. The lawsuit and subsequent appeals ended in 1989, with a commitment on the part of the responsible parties to contribute to the costs of remediation.  "


"In May 1982 Jan Richard Schlichtmann, a young, Cornell-educated lawyer who specialized in medical malpractice cases, filed a lawsuit against two multinational corporations in U.S. District Court in Boston. His clients were six Woburn families, all of whom had a child who had died of leukemia or who was being treated for the illness.

Schlichtmann charged that W.R. Grace & Company, of New York, and Beatrice Foods Company, of Chicago, had contaminated two municipal wells in East Woburn. The suit alleged that the well water caused the leukemia cases and numerous other illnesses," Source


 [Note: Below I have inserted an iFrame to a web site at Seattle University School of Law in which they discuss legal aspects of the Woburn case. Wayne]