WHITE BEAR TOWNSHIP — Stating that Water Gremlin has "taken and confirmed actions required under a 2019 court order," the attorney for the lead battery terminal manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the case.
Both parties, plaintiffs Roslyn Robertson, in her capacity as commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry, and Jan Malcolm, commissioner of the Department of Health, and defendant Water Gremlin signed a proposed order Oct. 20 for District Court Judge Leonardo Castro to approve.
The case started in District Court Oct. 28, 2019 when plaintiffs filed a complaint for injunction alleging Water Gremlin operations caused lead to migrate from its facilities into employee homes, where it had caused lead poisoning in children. Judge Castro issued an injunction a month later, requiring the company to take certain actions to prevent lead migration from continuing and to provide services for cleanup of lead contamination in employee vehicles and homes.
"The defendant," wrote attorney Mark Kaster, Dorsey & Whitney LLP in the proposed order, "worked diligently to complete all the items in the order and parties wish to resolve their dispute in an amicable manner."
Both parties agree to a consent decree that constitutes full settlement and resolution of the claims in the lawsuit. The defendant also releases plaintiffs from counterclaims.
The order states that Water Gremlin does not admit liability for any purpose and the consent decree shall not be admissible or used by any person or entity in any other proceeding, except with one of the state agencies, an administrative law judge or a court.
The order does provide a process whereby employees could opt in to have Water Gremlin test and clean a residence. Work would be done by Stantec, formerly Wenck, the same consultant that provided court-ordered updates to the judge. It was also noted that the identity of the residences will not be shared with Water Gremlin.
After opt-in work is completed, the company volunteered to contribute excess funds for Ramsey County’s lead awareness programs, not to exceed $75,000.
"Water Gremlin is pleased to have reached a full and complete settlement regarding the alleged lead exposures at our facility," said Scott Schulz, president. "We have worked closely with state and local officials to implement all the recommended safety improvements and practices, all verified by a third-party monitor and approved by the Court.
“Water Gremlin has greatly improved our facility and operations. We appreciate the dedication, hard work and cooperation of the Water Gremlin workforce in resolving the matter. We are thankful that the homes tested have shown no take-home lead; however, lead hazards can exist in other places and can come from multiple sources. This is especially true in any older home. That’s why we are also making a voluntary contribution to support Ramsey County’s ongoing efforts to improve lead awareness.”
The court retains jurisdiction over the case until the consent decree terminates end of year. At press time, the judge signed the order.