A group of 126 plaintiffs would split $255,000 in damages. Sisters Jerry Baron and Ellen Germeo are two of the plaintiffs. They live directly across the street from the plant. "When that explosion happened it went over the trees, down and took the field behind us," said Germeo.
The sisters elected to stay in their home, but say 10 years later they still have respiratory problems. Most of the other plaintiffs have moved away. "The little bit of money they're going to get from him ain't going to be nothing," said Germeo.
Diaz Chemical Corp. closed in 2003. The plant's grounds were taken over by the EPA, which also bought several homes at their assess value. They remain vacant. But the lawsuit lagged until plaintiffs received word of the proposed settlement on June 1. "There's no price on what any of us have been through," said Germeo, who will be 82 next week. "A number of people in this village have died of cancer."
Germeo and Baron, who will be 86 in August, acknowledge some believe the plaintiffs are embellishing their symptoms. Their response, they never tried to sleep here. "It's just been one mess after the others for 30 years that they were over there," said Germeo.
Both sisters have already accepted the terms of the settlement, but say the $1,000 or $2,000 they'll likely receive won't undo their suffering. "This is the third or fourth time they've been through the courts with that Buffalo judge and this is the best they claim they could get out of him," noted Germeo.
The plaintiffs attorneys, Alan Knauf of Rochester and Richard Lippes of Buffalo are recommending to their clients that they agree to the settlement terms. Plaintiffs have been given until June 17 to opt in or out.