10,000 Liverpudlians join Sonae class action lawsuitMay 4 2012, 4:20 pm
Sonae Indústria is one of the largest wood based panel producers in the world, which includes a wood-chip plant in Kirkby.
According to the Liverpool Echo this could be the biggest class action lawsuit the UK has ever seen. Three solicitor firms are leading the way in what could be a major judicial case having been swamped with complaints from residents about harmful emissions coming from the Kirkby plant.
In addition to this businesses based on the nearby Knowsley Industrial Estate have lodged complaints on behalf of their staff citing that discharges from the plant have caused common illnesses such as coughs, streaming eyes, respiratory problems and some more serious.
As well as a looming class action lawsuit Sonae is under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive since the death of two workers who fell into machinery 18 months ago, a large fire last summer and the death of a cherry-picker worker.
Furthermore, Knowsley council’s environmental health department is examining Sonae’s permit after a fire in January.
The three legal firms involved so far are GT Law in Kirkby, Camps in Birkenhead and MJP Solicitors in Liverpool. So far around 5,000 people have contacted both GT Law and Camps Solicitors, with 800 represented by MJP in Liverpool.
Goal Group understands that at this stage Queen’s Counsel has been instructed and endorsed the litigation and will now begin investigations into the allegations.
It is also understood that GT Law who are currently located half a mile from the Sonae Kirkby plant, will be moving offices later this month because of fears for their employees’ health.
Emma Garner, manager for GT Law, told the ECHO: “We’ve had thousands of local residents calling to ask for our services.
“These enquiries have come in over the last year, with many people believing fumes from the two big fires at Sonae emitted harmful chemicals.”
Shelley Naughton, solicitor for Camps, said: “This case is at the embryonic stage. Complaints revolve around respiratory, ear, nose, and throat issues, dermatitis and the long-term aspect of long-term health effects.”
Sonae Insudtria looks set to deny any wrongdoing after the following statement from their managing director: “This issue is being dealt with by our insurance company and their appointed solicitors. However, we will be appropriately defending ourselves against those claims made without any substantial supporting evidence. It has also come to our attention that ‘claims farmers’ working for local solicitors have been circulating leaflets encouraging people to come forward, based upon the fabrication that compensation has already been made to local residents. “There is absolutely no truth to this, no payments have been made and it is deliberately misleading the public. Even our own employees have been directly approached to make a claim, indicative of the unfortunate reflection of the claims culture we live in.”