Important Update: The Settlement was approved at the Fairness Hearing on July 26, 2023. Class Members who submitted deficient claims were mailed notices requesting additional information. If you have any questions about the status of your claim, please contact the Settlement Administrator.
What is this lawsuit about?
This lawsuit arises out of the historic operations of the former USMR Smelter Site located in Carteret, New Jersey. The lawsuit claims that properties in the Class Area have been damaged by the releases of lead, arsenic, and other contaminants from the historic operation of the Smelter Site. The lawsuit also claims that the manner in which Defendants tested and remediated contaminants from the Smelter Site was inadequate and has caused and continues to cause damage to properties in the Class Area. The Defendants deny that they have done anything wrong.
Who is included in the Class?
The Court has decided that everyone who fits the following description is a Class Member:
Property Damages Class: All persons who own or owned any Residential Property (as that term is defined by N.J. Admin. Code § 18:12-2.2(b) and includes ‘dwelling house[s] and the lot or parcel of land on which the dwelling house is situated [where the] dwelling is functionally designed for use and enjoyment by not more than four families and includes residential condominiums’) and (ii) vacant lots zoned for residential use in each case located within the geographical boundary defined by the map below (the “Class Area”) at any time during the Class Period, but excluding (i) properties owned by the Defendants or employees of Defendants, and (ii) properties owned by any federal, state, or local government or any subdivision of such government entities. The Class Area is generally bounded by Peter J. Sica Industrial Highway to the East, Romanowski Street to the North-East, Cypress Street to the North, Arthur and East Grant Streets to the West, and Middlesex Avenue to the South. The Class includes Residential Properties located on both sides of the boundary streets. The Class Period is from January 30, 2017 to March 27, 2023.
What does the lawsuit provide?
In accordance with the Settlement Agreement, USMR must place Forty-Two Million Dollars ($42,000,000) in a court-administered fund to settle this matter. In addition, Defendants have also negotiated a separate proposed settlement with certain property owners outside of the Class Area (the “Settling Individual Homeowners”). In the event that the total aggregate of payments to all Settling Individual Homeowners (which include Settlement Individual Homeowners’ attorneys’ fees and costs) is less than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000), USMR will also pay the remaining amount to reach a total of $2 million to the court-administered fund for this class settlement.
The Settlement provides for a monetary payment to the owners of each eligible property. The exact amount of any final payment to the property owners will depend on the Court’s award of attorneys’ fees and expenses, the Court’s award of class representative incentive awards, the costs of settlement administration, and the remaining amount (if any) from the Settling Individual Homeowners payments. The eligible property payment amount will be calculated by the Settlement Administrator once all of these other costs are known. Your portion of this per-property payment will be based on the duration of your ownership during the period January 30, 2017 through March 27, 2023 (the Class Period). However, based on reasonable estimates of the above costs, the Settlement Class Counsel and Defendants estimate that each eligible property will entitle its owner(s) during the entire Class Period to payment(s) that when added together equal a total of approximately $17,500 per eligible property. To the extent that individual Class Members do not file Claim and Release Forms and participate in the settlement benefits, USMR may be entitled to a reversion of unclaimed settlement funds, but this reversion will not exceed 30% of the amount in the settlement fund after deduction of Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, and payment of approved incentive awards.