Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that residents cannot sue Dow Chemical to pay the cost of future dioxin-related health problems. High levels of Dioxin, a toxin that is linked to cancer, birth defects, and other health problems, have been found along the Tittabawassee River in Midland Michigan near the corporate headquarters of Dow Chemical. In response, 170 residents filed a lawsuit demanding that Dow Chemical be required to setup a medical monitoring trust fund to pay for dioxin testing. The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that medical monitoring is not recognized as a legal claim in Michigan, stating that the issue would be better addressed by the state legislature.
The ruling came as a preliminary study by the Michigan Department of Community Health was released concluding that blood dioxin levels were above average in people who lived on land known to be contaminated by dioxin. The preliminary study of 20 people is to be followed by a larger study conducted by the University of Michigan that will provide a more accurate measure of dioxin levels in mid-Michigan residents. Dow Chemical has a long history of profiting from toxic chemicals and using its influence to silence criticism by the state, the corporate media, and the Michigan universities. In 2001 the Engler administration learned that dioxin levels in the Tittabawassee River floodplain were over 7,000 parts per trillion, more than 80 times Michigan’s clean-up standards, in parks and residential areas. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Director, Russ Harding, blocked further soil testing and suppressed a state health assessment calling for aggressive action.
Among Dow Chemical’s memorable products are napalm and Agent Orange.