Environmental Litigation Attorneys

Gopher Resource Lead Smelter Attorneys

Lead poisoning continues to undermine communities, such as Flint, Michigan. Aging infrastructure, political infighting, and dangerous cost-cutting measures exposed thousands of these residents to high levels of lead. Many of these victims were children. The same thing is happening in other neighborhoods throughout America, such as New York City’s public housing projects and the residents of Tampa, Florida. The aggressive attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik were the driving force in the massive Flint, Michigan water quality settlement. Nothing can reverse the damage which was done to that city. But the financial compensation our team obtained at least enables these victims to face the future with more confidence. That’s the best possible outcome under the circumstances. We did it before and we can do it again. Environmental poisoning claims, like dangerous lead smelter actions, are extremely complex affairs. Most law firms do not have the expertise and resources necessary to handle them, but we do.  

Effects on Workers

Ko Brown, a former Gopher employee, speaks at a press conference. Generally, lead smelter owners care much more about profits than people. As a result, these workers breathe dusty air that’s laced with high levels of lead. Other injuries include serious burns and repetitive stress injuries. Lead smelter owners often prey on minority workers with limited educations or criminal records by offering to pay them as much as $20 per hour plus benefits. But the relatively high pay and generous benefits come at a price. These individuals must work very long hours in very dangerous conditions. Worker safety at most smelters, like the Gopher Resource smelter in Tampa, Florida, is a catch-22. If workers wear facemasks to protect themselves from lead-laced dust, they may succumb to the searing heat in these smelters. The company’s smelters run twenty-four hours a day at temperatures above 1,500 degrees. If workers don’t wear masks so they can keep up with demanding quotas, health issues like reproductive problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and brain injuries. Lead smelter operators like Gopher Resource are keenly aware of the extreme health dangers. Yet they continue to send workers into hazardous areas.

Effects on Area Residents and Family Members

Tomika Brown, the wife of a former Gopher employee, speaking. Large, dangerous lead smelters don’t just endanger the workers themselves. They also endanger people in the surrounding community. Many workers unwittingly carry lead-laced dust particles home with them, on their clothing or skin or in their vehicles. These particles quickly infect other family members. Furthermore, the lead particles often seep into groundwater. People who depend on private wells are especially susceptible to such injuries. The statistics support these fears. Over the past several years, over a dozen children of Gopher Resource lead smelter workers have tested positive for unhealthy lead levels. Furthermore, there have been over 2,400 lead poisoning cases in Hillsborough County (the Tampa area) since 2010. That’s by far the most of any county in Florida, even much larger ones, like Miami-Dade County. Lead affects children differently from adults. In addition to the aforementioned health effects, lead causes developmental delays in children. These delays force children into a downward spiral. Every year, they fall further behind their classmates and get more frustrated over their inability to process simple problems. Companies like Gopher Resource insist they are doing their best to promote safety. But if that were true, area residents wouldn’t suffer from record levels of lead poisoning. Polluting companies have a moral duty to keep people safe. More importantly for our purposes, they also have a legal duty to do so, under federal laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. if they breach these duties, they could be liable for damages. These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available in environmental poisoning cases as well. These damages convince companies to do more than pay lip service to public safety. Almost two dozen lead smelters are still operating in the United States. These smelters poison the people who work in them, and the people who live around them. All these victims are entitled to compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced environmental legal team, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We handle cases like these on a nationwide basis.  

In the News

Tampa lead factory ran afoul of environmental standards, report finds, Tampa Bay Times (July 2, 2021) Tampa lead factory gets credit downgrade, Tampa Bay Times (June 29, 2021) Former worker sues Tampa lead smelter over son’s exposure, Tampa Bay Times (June 2, 2021) Former worker sues Tampa lead factory over child’s alleged exposure, NBC Affiliate WFLA-8 (June 2, 2021) Lead Poison Lawsuit Filed Against Gopher Lead Plant, WMNF 88.5 (June 2, 2021)  
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