Landmark $205 Million Settlement Secured in Mountaire Groundwater Contamination Case
$205 Million Class Action
For over 20 years, chicken processing giant Mountaire knew that it was polluting the groundwater and air of Millsboro, Delaware. Instead of fixing the problem, the company rapidly increased production and waste generation. The complete disregard for safety created a substantial threat to the people of Millsboro, contaminating their drinking water, causing serious health problems, and diminishing their property values and way of life.
In December 2017, local residents, including Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels, received cases of bottled water from Mountaire with no explanation. Most of the recipients had not known about the issues going on in their backyards and the bottled water was the first sign their water was unsafe.
Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A., became aware of the issue and quickly launched an extensive investigation of Mountaire’s waste management practices at its Millsboro facility.
- The firm reviewed thousands of pages of documents on Mountaire’s conduct, tested the wells of over 100 Millsboro residents, spoke with residents to monitor for health effects and interviewed former Mountaire employees about the plant’s practices.
- Over two dozen consultants and experts were hired to help take on Mountaire, including a hydrogeologist, wastewater management expert, economist, and environmental engineer.
- The firm also teamed up with former environmental defense lawyers to get their expertise on how the company may try to continue avoiding responsibility.
After extensive litigation between the parties, a $205 settlement was reached and approved by the court on April 12, 2021.
- Mountaire will create a $65 million fund for those in the Millsboro community who have been harmed by its pollution.
- Mountaire will also conduct plant upgrades and remediation valued at $120 million at its Millsboro plant.
- This includes the establishment of a clean drinking water source, a medical monitoring program, a water monitoring program, remediation of their contaminated groundwater, nearby surface waters, and Indian River, and the connection of properties to a public water supply at no cost.
- An additional $20 million will go towards ongoing operations and maintenance.
Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A. took on Mountaire – a corporation that had evaded accountability for years – and obtained results for the people of Millsboro. As a result of years of investigation and hard work, Mountaire will finally be held accountable and forced to make the long overdue changes necessary for Millsboro to once again be a healthy, safe place to live and work.
- A poultry plant, years of groundwater contamination and, finally, a court settlement, Washington Post
- Poultry Plant to Pay $205 Million in Water Pollution Settlements, Bloomberg Law
- Final settlements inked in poultry plant pollution lawsuits, Associated Press
- Poultry plant to pay $205 million for polluting local drinking water, air in Delaware, Philadelphia Inquirer
- Poultry Industry Must Answer for Polluting Maryland Communities, The Daily Record