From: Associated Press
Published August 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Judge Cuts Award for California Dry Cleaning Pollution

MODESTO, Calif. — A $175 million jury verdict awarded to the city for water contamination from dry cleaning chemicals was reduced by a San Francisco Superior Court judge to $13 million, a clerk said.

Judge John E. Munter reduced the punitive damages Tuesday against two chemical companies, but rejected a request to order a new trial.

Damages against Vulcan Materials Co., based in Montgomery, Ala., were reduced to $7.25 million from $100 million. Dow Chemical Co., based in Midland, Mich., was ordered to pay $5.5 million, down from $75 million. The verdict for RR Street & Co. Inc., of Naperville, Ill., remained at $75,000.

A jury decided in June that the companies acted with malice because they failed to tell dry cleaners how to use and dispose of chemicals without harming the environment.

Two other chemical companies -- Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries and Dallas-based Occidental Chemical Corporation -- were ordered to pay $3.2 million for water pollution, but they were not hit with punitive damages.

Two local dry cleaning businesses that were named in the lawsuit, Modesto Steam Laundry and Cleaners and Halford's Cleaners, did not have to pay.

Source: Associated Press

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