Lawsuits filed against the Cotter Corporation:
Moschetti - Little is known about the suit filed by Lincoln
Park resident Dominic Moschetti in the 1970s. It is believed to
be the first civil suit against the company. Court records could
not be found, but references to the suit are contained in other
suits. The suit, filed after Moschetti's cattle were allegedly poisoned
by molybdenum, resulted in a confidential settlement. A memo written
by former Cotter mill manager Myles Fixman indicates the company
paid to have the Moschetti property hooked up to city water as part
of that settlement. Moschetti's widow, Wanda Moschetti, declined
to answer questions regarding the suit.
v. Cotter (1983) - The State of Colorado sued Cotter for polluting
natural resources in 1983. The suit was filed in December of that
year - six months after the state completed the sale of the mill
site to the Cotter Corporation, which had leased the 640-acre property
since 1958. It was also filed three months after the Environmental
Protection Agency listed the area on its National Priorities, or
suit was settled in 1988 when Cotter agreed to pay $4 million in
penalties and $11 million for an ongoing cleanup and monitoring
program that continues today.
et, al. v. Cotter (1989) - A group of 550 Lincoln Park-area
residents filed a $550 million suit against Cotter in 1989, claiming
the mill had contaminated their land and wells. A federal judge
denied class-action status for the case, which was then tried in
two pieces. In 1994 the claims of eight "bellwether" plaintiffs
went to trial. A jury awarded nothing to three of them and five
of them were awarded a total of $141,122, which jumped to $220,722
with pre-trial interest.
remainder of those claims did not go to trial. The rest of the so-called
Boughton defendants settled with Cotter for an undisclosed amount
in 1996. While the settlement was confidential, it is believed to
have included medical monitoring for some of the plaintiffs.
et. al. v. Cotter (1991) - The so-called Dodge case, which included
16 plaintiffs, was the first to claim personal injury as a result
of pollution from Cotter. A federal jury awarded the plaintiffs
a total of $5 million in a 1998 trial, but the U.S. 10th Circuit
Court of Appeals overturned the verdict - ruling that U.S. District
Judge Zita Weinshienk erred in deciding what the jury could consider.
The case was retried in 2001 and the plaintiffs were awarded a total
of $16 million. That figure jumped to $43.5 million with pre-trial
interest. Cotter has appealed the second verdict, but had to bond
the $43.5 million in order to do so. The appeals court is expected
to rule on the appeal in mid-to-late 2003.
worker's compensation case - Lynn Boughton, who worked as a
chemist at Cotter from 1958 to 1979, later applied for worker's
compensation benefits based on the cancer he claimed was the result
of exposure at Cotter. The case ended up before an administrative
law judge, who in 2000 awarded Boughton just under $500,000. The
ruling came after lab reports indicated Boughton's body contained
700 times the amount of background radiation normally found in humans.
Boughton died of cancer in 2001. His widow, Deyon Boughton, said
costs took about $67,000 of the award.