U.S. Water News Online
MINNEAPOLIS -- The attorneys battling 3M in a lawsuit over
groundwater pollution in some eastern Twin Cities communities have
been ordered to pay the company an $86,894 penalty for turning over
confidential 3M documents to a newspaper reporter and a state agency.
The attorneys, who said their release of the documents was a
"major screw up," represent residents who allege they were affected
by the contamination. 3M gave the plaintiffs' lawyers the documents
under a confidentiality agreement that was part of the lawsuit
proceedings in Washington County District Court, and didn't want them
But the attorneys told the judge in the case they inadvertently
included some of the confidential material in a packet of information
given to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which was reviewing
3M cleanup issues. The attorneys gave copies of the documents to the
Star Tribune in Minneapolis based on a request from a reporter.
The Star Tribune used the documents to write a story in April
disclosing that 3M scientists in the 1980s worried that chemicals
used in Scotchgard and Teflon might persist and accumulate in the
soil and water. But they suggested rigorous testing might prove the
compounds were environmentally sound.
In levying the fine, retired federal judge Jonathan Lebedoff, a
special master in the case, wrote that he was "deeply disturbed by
Plaintiffs' counsel's serious breach of the protective order."
When the lawyers realized they'd released confidential documents,
they asked the agency and the newspaper to return the documents. The
agency did, while the Star Tribune did not.
Return to the
U.S. Water News' Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.