MANATEE — Four plaintiffs with ties to a former beryllium plant in Tallevast have appealed a judge’s decision denying their petition to expand a lawsuit against current owner Lockheed Martin Corp. into a class action.
On Tuesday, attorney Ruben Honik appealed Manatee County Circuit Judge Jannette Dunnigan’s Aug. 9 decision to the Second District Court of Appeal.
Former beryllium plant employee Paul O’Brien and his wife Nancy O’Brien joined Tallevast residents Wanda Washington and Laura Ward in the suit, which sought lifetime medical monitoring to make sure they and others who might have been exposed to beryllium don’t develop chronic beryllium disease.
The suit is one of several filed against Lockheed claiming personal injury and property damage from exposure to beryllium.
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Lockheed Martin purchased the former Loral American Beryllium Plant at 1600 Tallevast Road in 1996. The company is awaiting final state approval before continuing remediation of the site, spokesman Gary Cambre said.
Dunnigan ruled the plaintiffs failed to prove any of the five requirements for a class action.
In her order, Dunnigan wrote that because not all people exposed to beryllium have the same likelihood of contracting chronic beryllium disease, there is no common risk.
“Lockheed Martin is pleased that the Manatee County Circuit Court has ruled that class certification should not be applied to a personal injury case brought by plaintiff Washington,” a statement from the company read. “Lockheed Martin is committed to all residents of the Tallevast community and to cleaning up the groundwater contamination associated with the former ABC facility.”
The plaintiffs sought to set up three classes in their action.
A community class would include residents who lived within a two-mile radius of the beryllium plant for at least six months since 1961. A worker class would include employees who worked at the plant for at least one month since 1961. And a take-home class would include those who lived with plant workers for at least one month since 1961.
Neither Honik nor Washington were available for comment Wednesday.