It turns out that a few years ago a bunch of poor minority residents living in the Acreage area of western Palm Beach County learned that they had unusually high rates of cancer -- a "cancer cluster" -- not exactly great for property values (let alone health).
These residents then sued aeronautics giant Pratt & Whitney for contaminating their groundwater, claiming that the contamination emanated from a plant located several miles away.
On a second amended complaint, Judge Ryskamp dismissed the action with prejudice, relying on Iqbal and a lack of specificity in the allegations.
Here's an example:
The closest Plaintiffs come to making a specific allegation that something traveled from Pratt & Whitney to the Acreage is in Paragraphs 236 and 238, but those fall short of the mark. Plaintiffs allege that Pratt & Whitney and The Acreage “are underlain by” the same aquifer, and that “groundwater is drawn” from the Corbett Wildlife Management Area and Pratt & Whitney to the Acreage. Complaint, ¶236. Plaintiffs then allege that their experts:YUM -- time to bottle and sell that delicious vaguely contaminated Acreage water!
confirm that the types of CCOCs . . . known to have been spilled . . . at the P&W site and by Pratt & Whitney in the Corbett National Wildlife Refuge [sic] have traveled to and physically invaded The Acreage, and are present in the groundwater of The Acreage Neighborhood and have contaminated the groundwater that the Plaintiffs’ and class members’ properties share with [THMs].Sec. Am. Compl., ¶238. This allegation superficially appears specific, but is yet another generalized allegation that the “types of CCOCs” found at Pratt & Whitney traveled to somewhere under “The Acreage”—as opposed to under each Plaintiff’s property—and that these types of CCOCs “are present” in “the groundwater of The Acreage Neighborhood.” The mere allegation that chemicals at Pratt & Whitney “are present” in the groundwater of “the Acreage” does not mean that the chemical traveled from Pratt & Whitney to the Acreage, as any chemical in the Acreage could have come from a different source than Pratt & Whitney.
(Maybe they can sell some to that nearby Pratt & Whitney plant?)
BTW, plaintiffs' lawyer Craig Zobel said he had plenty of evidence:
“We respectfully disagree,” he said. Contrary to Ryskamp’s ruling, Zobel said, he submitted thousands of pages of records linking Pratt & Whitney to the cancer cluster. He hired an appraiser, who reviewed all 17,000 pieces of land and methodically showed how property values plunged. He hired hydrologists to track how toxins moved through underground water supplies. He hired urologists and toxicologists who linked Magaly Pinares’ kidney cancer to the toxins found in her well.But how much of it was in the second amended complaint?
“We had a wealth of data,” he said.