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The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether a 6-year-old lawsuit should have class-action status. Such a classification may raise the number of plaintiffs in the case from 173 to 2,000 residents of Midland, Saginaw and Bay City areas.

Dow Chemical is trying to have the lower court’s decision to grant class-action status reversed, arguing that each individual should have to prove their case because dioxin only contaminated some of the properties.

Dioxin is a chemical byproduct that may cause cancer and damage to reproductive and immune systems. Dow Chemical has admitted that it polluted the Tittabawasee and Saginaw rivers, their flood-plains, portions of the City of Midland and the Saginaw Bay with dioxins for much of the 20th century. Dow Chemical first dumped the chemical directly in to the waters, and later incinerated them which contaminated the Saginaw Valley.

The lawsuit affects an area of about 13,000 acres surrounding the Tittabawasse River. The area is heavily populated, making the spread of dioxin throughout the flood-plain incredibly dangerous to humans and wildlife. The Court’s ruling will have broad implications on class-action environmental suits in Michigan. Allowing the plaintiffs to join in a class will allow them to consolidate cost, which give them a better chance to make their case against the giant, Dow Chemical.

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