Oregon Wrongful Death Questions Reopened by New Study

When five Beaverton families and Mattel Corporation settled Oregon wrongful death lawsuits related to contaminated water near one of the company’s former plants earlier this year issues related to cancer rates and carcinogens were not closed. According to a recent article in The Oregonian a new study conducted by a Beaverton resident, combined with a reassessment of the toxicity of the chemical at issue – trichloroethylene, also known as TCE – are potentially bringing the question of Oregon wrongful death claims back into the public arena.

The newspaper’s article focuses on a long-running Beaverton wrongful death case involving a plant that was originally owned by View-Master and later passed through several other corporate hands before being closed by Mattel in 2001.

In 1998, the paper reports, “TCE was found in concentrations 320 times the federal standard in a private well that supplied drinking water” for the plant. “Many former workers, who sipped the tainted water later suffered from cancers, according to an unofficial health study.” In May, Mattel settled Oregon wrongful death claims with five families. Now, however, the paper reports that a new health study funded by the Oregon Community Foundation “may strengthen the case for other workers who wish to file lawsuits.” The study “suggests a strong connection between TCE exposure and certain cancers,” the paper quotes its author, Amanda Evans-Healy saying. Evans-Healy was one of the successful defendants in the earlier set of Beaverton wrongful death actions.

“More than 200 of those surveyed were diagnosed with cancers, according to the study,” the paper reports, referring to the new study. “Women who drank the contaminated water at the plant were six times more likely to have kidney cancer than the general Oregon population. Men were 14 times more likely to have gall bladder cancer.”
This study, and the paper’s reporting of it, are an important example of community-based activism and the role it can play in righting wrongs. This study may lay the groundwork for a significant action by an Oregon wrongful death attorney, using the legal system and citizens’ research efforts to achieve justice.

The Oregonian: Two studies bolster concerns of former Beaverton View-Master employees about TCE contamination