Dozens of residents of Goshen, Indiana have filed an environmental damage lawsuit against Johnson Controls Inc., the former owner of the Johnson Controls plant which was demolished without appropriate asbestos remediation.
The illegal action sent dangerous asbestos fibers throughout the neighboring community and the company that did the demolition added insult to injury by later dumping asbestos-contaminated debris at a nearby farm location.
The environmental damage that Johnson Controls engaged in unfolded over an extended period and is a story of putting profit over people’s health, as well as of breaking the law. The company sold their building but retained access to it after the sale of their property.
The owner, Tony Adkins of TOCON, had intended to sell it to the Goshen school board for them to erect a softball field, but upon learning that demolition would make it more attractive, he sought quotes from many companies.
The prices he was quoted for having demolition done properly ranged between $800,000 and $1.5 million — more than the property was worth — so instead he made arrangements with Richard Swift to do the work by simply knocking the buildings down, skipping the required inspections and asbestos remediation. Swift agreed to do the work at no cost in exchange for being able to salvage all scrap materials.
Group Tore Asbestos-Contaminated Buildings Down, Knowing of Risk of Environmental Damage
The environmental lawsuit filed by residents accuses Johnson Controls, Swift and Adkins of exposing their community to asbestos, a material known to cause mesothelioma and other serious diseases. They cite dust and asbestos that blew into their neighborhood and covered their homes and properties, cars and patio furniture.
The lawsuit claims that the contamination extended inside of their homes, and says, “The plaintiffs, including small children, breathed the asbestos-containing dust and have been seriously harmed because the asbestos fibers are now lodged in their lungs, and could lead to serious diseases such as cancer.”
In addition to the environmental damage caused by the airborne asbestos, the suit indicates that asbestos-contaminated debris was left behind and required an emergency cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency, and also “dumped numerous truckloads of asbestos-containing debris in a ravine on a farm east of Goshen.”