$375 Million Settlement Reached in Cook v. Rockwell International Corporation
The legal battle of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Site outside of Denver, Colorado comes to a close
A settlement has been reached in Cook v. Rockwell International Corporation, No. 90-cv-00181 (D. Colo.), one of the longest running cases in the United States, involving plutonium releases from the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons site northwest of Denver, Colorado. The case was filed in January 1990 against The Dow Chemical Company and Rockwell International Corporation, companies which managed the plant from 1952 to 1989 for the United States Department of Energy. Homeowners alleged that plutonium released from the plant had contaminated their property. The proposed class settlement is for $375 million. “We are very pleased with the settlement,” said Merrill G. Davidoff, a managing shareholder of Berger Montague who was lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs in the four-month trial held from October 2005 to February 2006. The jury found for plaintiffs on Valentine’s Day, 2006, but judgment was vacated on appeal in 2010. In a second trip to the court of appeals, plaintiffs secured a victory in 2015. After both sides sought review by the United States Supreme Court, a settlement was reached.
“Our clients have stuck with this case, and so have we. It’s been a long haul,” said Mr. Davidoff, who, along with fellow Berger Montague managing shareholder David F. Sorensen and the whole trial team received the prestigious Trial Lawyer of the Year award in 2009 from the Public Justice Foundation for their work on the case. Judge John L. Kane has certified a settlement class and appointed Berger Montague as lead class counsel. The settlement will be filed with the court shortly, and a schedule for further proceedings established. In light of the settlement, both sides dismissed their petitions seeking review by the Supreme Court.
The trial team also included shareholders Peter Nordberg, Caitlin G. Coslett and Ellen Noteware, attorney Jenna McNaughton and lead trial paralegal Karen Markert. Louise Roselle of the Cincinnati law firm of Markovits, Stock & DeMarco; Jean Geoppinger McCoy, currently of the Cincinnati law firm of White, Getgey & Meyer, Co., L.P.A., and Gary B. Blum of Silver & DeBoskey, P.C. in Denver, also assisted at trial.
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Berger Montague, with over 50 attorneys, represents plaintiffs in complex and class action litigation. The firm has played lead roles in major cases for over 40 years, resulting in recoveries of billions of dollars for its clients and the classes they represent.