Lawsuits filed against Wolverine Worldwide

Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 29, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS,  Mich. --   Lawsuits have been filed against Wolverine Worldwide. Varnum Law has taken on more than 80 clients, but the first filings from impacted residents started Tuesday.

The lawsuits are asking for damages for the impacted residents and stricter regulations on Wolverine to prevent further pollution.

Varnum Law attorney Aaron Phelps said his clients are extremely concerned about their health and the health of their families.

Phelps said his clients lives have been changed by Wolverines' old dumping practices, which has allowed potentially toxic chemicals once used to scotchgard shoes to seep into their groundwater.

“There’s all this uncertainly which will come of it in the future. We understand when you ingest these chemicals, they don’t leave your body quickly," said Phelps. "You probably have at least trace amounts of them forever.”

The plaintiffs, all from Belmont, in the three complaints filed to the Kent County Circuit Court Tuesday include Michael and Laura Metz, Theodore Ryfiak, and Melvin and Marlene Nylaan.

“There are a number of serious illnesses that are associated with exposure so they’re very worried about," said Phelps. "Different people have been there for different length of time, some of them have been there for 20 years."

The filings claim Wolverine knowingly polluted the groundwater by dumping barrels and sludge with toxic chemicals known as PFAS.  It also claims the sludge left at the House Street dumpsite ran down the ravine, ending up on land owned by MDOT, an area that was not a licensed landfill.

“Other people are worried about property values. In particular, there are residents who had plans to move. There are people who were building homes and planned to sell their existing home when that was completed," said Phelps. "Now they won’t be able to do that, at least for the same amount of money they intended to get.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said they are investigating as many as 75 dump sites connected to Wolverine Worldwide.

Wolverine Worldwide tells FOX 17 they cannot comment on any ongoing or potential litigation.