Local News

La Porte County Joins Nationwide Lawsuit

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County government has joined other municipalities nationwide in a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars for environmental contamination.


Damages are sought in the legal action taken against Monsanto Company for PCB contamination.


The La Porte County Commissioners, on November 17, decided against taking a $900,000 settlement offered in the case and hired an outside law firm to represent them in the lawsuit containing numerous other plaintiffs.


The outside law firm recommended La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman, who owns Friedman & Associates in downtown La Porte, to perform some of the legal work needed locally in the case. Friedman's firm would receive 3.75-percent of any damages awarded to the La Porte County government.


La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz suggested Friedman be paid $150 per hour to increase the amount La Porte County government would receive from damages in the lawsuit.


He said the work by Friedman would not be deserving of 3.75-percent of the damages if the amount awarded to the La Porte County government were in the millions of dollars.


“I think it’s very important considering his work in this job will be extremely minimal,” Stabosz said.

Representatives from the law firm defended the selection of Friedman, saying similar arrangements are made with other county attorneys since they're more familiar with the local contacts and other local sources needed for gathering information vital for pursuing damages on behalf of plaintiffs.


Friedman said working for a percentage of damages means no expenses for taxpayers if La Porte County does not come out on the winning side of the case. He also said payments of $150 per hour would also mean spending tax dollars over a long period since major lawsuits often take years for a court to decide. However, how the current deal is structured would cost the taxpayers no money. 


“The benefit for the county on a contingency arrangement is no fees expended by the taxpayers either for expenses or fees,” Friedman said.

Kingsbury Industrial Park is one of several properties Monsanto allegedly contaminated with PCBs. The vote by the commissioners was 2 to 1 in favor of the legal arrangement, with Joe Haney favoring a $150 an hour billing agreement for Friedman.

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