Varnum Law weighs lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide over dump sites

Posted at 6:46 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 18:47:17-04

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Dozens of families are seeking legal action against Wolverine Worldwide after finding contaminated wells near a former tannery dump site used by the West Michigan based shoe company.

While there isn't a lawsuit just yet, Varnum Law says they're hoping to work with Wolverine Wolrdwide first and foremost, sending them multiple requests on behalf of the 50+ clients they're representing who live near the House St. NE dump in Plainfield Township.

Aaron Phelps, Partner at Varnum Law tells FOX 17 News they've reached out to Wolverine Worldwide multiple times with no luck.

"We've asked Wolverine to assist with the blood testing, they have not agreed to do that," Phelps said. "We've asked Wolverine for information and documentation, they've not agreed to do that."

Phelps says they have a number of requests, including getting safe drinking water to the affected families, either with whole house filtering systems or by switching over to municipal water from the Township.

They're also asking them to pay for long-term medical monitoring of the affected families. After the full extent of contamination is revealed to the public, they're requesting the company be responsible for a drop in property values while properly disposing of any contaminants and safely sealing off the House Street dump.

Phelps said Varnum is certainly on the trajectory of filing a lawsuit given the current status.

"We haven’t identified the end of this zone," Phelps said. "So it's my understanding that the testing area is going to be expanded and will include people likely up to the Rogue River."

Theodore Ryfiak is just one of Varnum's clients. The father of three told FOX 17 he and his family have been drinking the well water from their home off House Street for years, only to find out the water they thought was safe isn't.

"Who’s going to buy a house with water they can’t drink?" said Ryfiak. "Thirty years from now, I don't know what this is going to do to my son. He's been drinking it his entire life now."

Phelps understands his clients are frustrated with plenty of questions, getting no answers from Wolverine Worldwide. In an effort to show transparancy, Varnum created this Facebook page to share information related to PFAS water contamination issues in Kent County.