Randy White

Randy White, of the group Fighting for Frederick, holds up copies of The Frederick News-Post citing coverage of Fort Detrick’s Area B and local cases of cancer at a news conference held at Hotel W in downtown Washington in 2010.

Frederick residents and Randy White’s family are again claiming in court that Fort Detrick’s negligence caused the illnesses and deaths of their relatives.

In a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, they argue that the government withheld “crucial information” from people living and working near the installation and “recklessly and negligently” handled toxic chemicals, causing injury and death by exposure.

The plaintiffs are seeking $750 million for wrongful death and pain and suffering.

Massachusetts lawyer Mike Hugo has been representing the family of Randy White, founder of the Kristen Renee Foundation, in its legal actions against the Army.

Hugo said they are unsure how many people may eventually be part of the class-action suit.

The legal action is intended to protect the 106 families and individuals whose claims of health problems were denied in February, though many more people may have had health issues without filing claims.

The lawsuit is split into three groups of people.

Angie Pieper, sister of the late Kristen Renee White Hernandez, is representing Hernandez’s estate and people whose deaths were “caused by toxic exposure on or emanating from” Fort Detrick, according to court documents.

Frederick resident Louise M. Mason is representing herself and people “suffering from diseases caused by toxic exposure on or emanating from” Fort Detrick. Mason declined to comment Thursday.

Brandon F. White, Randy White’s son, is representing himself and people “suffering from fear of diseases caused by toxic exposure on or emanating from” Fort Detrick. Brandon White lives in Tampa, Florida.

Hugo said they have found military families and veterans whose health has been affected by contamination at the installation. He expects to see more affected active military and veterans as the case progresses.

He also said he has identified people who know their illness was directly caused by contamination at Fort Detrick. He declined to provide details.

Fort Detrick garrison spokeswoman Lanessa Hill said the post continues to monitor more than 100 groundwater wells both on and off post for contaminants. A portion of those are monitored on a quarterly basis.

“These wells allow us to have a good approximation of what is going on in and around Area B at any time,” she said in an email.

The 106 claims the Army denied a total of $3.8 billion in restitution for wrongful deaths and illnesses stemming from toxins near Fort Detrick.

The claims included one $50 million claim that White filed, claiming that Hernandez’s death from a brain tumor was caused by living near the post.

Those who received denials had six months to take legal action and sue the Army.

The state health department reported last fall that it was unable to find a cancer cluster near Fort Detrick, though local activists and residents argued the state’s review was not thorough enough.

Jen Peppe Hahn, a member of the Fort Detrick Restoration Advisory Board, was one of those residents.

She believes the range of data the state examined — cancer cases in the Fort Detrick area between 1992 and 2011 — leaves out many potential cases in the 1970s and 1980s.

A developer’s $37 million lawsuit against Fort Detrick was dismissed in January. The developer, Waverley View Investors LLC, owns a property totaling 92.8 acres near the installation.

A representative of Waverley View declined to comment on current plans for the property.

According to court records, the developer failed to show that the Army was bound to environmental cleanup actions at Fort Detrick.

Pieper, Mason and White’s current class-action lawsuit against the Army similarly argues that Fort Detrick was responsible for maintaining its property “in such a way as to not cause harm.”

Hill said the Army plans to widen its geographic sampling area this fall and start looking at groundwater in the Carroll Creek area, and potentially the Waverly View property, to test for contaminants.

As of Thursday afternoon, a court hearing had not been set.

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(7) comments

FNP-reader

The State Health Department study had an inconclusive negative result. The 2011 report did not have a strong methodology. They did not include people who moved away in their focus on the local census tracts. A more meaningful study would have needed to look at and count in its statistical measurements people moving away from the area after living there and being affected and would have taken into consideration and corrected for the influx of new people who were not there long enough to show the effects due to the time it takes for carcinogens to act. However a proper study, that would cost a lot more to do.

Plus how motivated is the State Health Department to find out that there is a problem? I think a negative result and a weak design suited their purposes. As done, the study diluted the numbers so one would expect to miss seeing the effects of the high concentrations of known carcinogens in the ground water. Since the study design was weak and lacked statistical power the negative result does not carry any weight.

flyingfree4ever

Gardenwhimsey, you must have some connection with Ft. Detrick to make such a comment like that. It doesn't matter which came first. Ft. Detrick caused the toxic contamination and they are responsible for it and a lot of people's lives for their actions. Also, since Ft. Detrick and the Health Department continue to deny that there is any problem at all and they continue deny cancer clusters in Frederick, MD just to cover their butts, it is a flat out lie. Of course, they are going to deny... deny... deny...
And to joelp77440, there is a solid iron clad case with plenty of evidence. It's not based on White's emotion. Three strong lawfirms would not touch a case if it was poorly put together. The evidence is so strong everyone will know about it. Read it for yourself. http://www.kristenrenee.org/ and http://www.fightingforfrederick.org

FrederickVeteran, I am sorry to hear about your friends chronic lung diseases. You may be right that some people in general want to sue for every issue that comes against them, however, this is not the case here. I've personally seen the test results and it's off the charts for EPA standards. Listen to the recordings where Ft. Detrick said that they didn't want to let the public know about it, and for the first time they admit to spraying agent orange from a tower mounted on a truck. It doesn't just go away. The contamination is the worst now than ever. Plus, Ft. Detrick decides to build a bio lab 4 which tests the most deadliest diseases in the world. They built this and put so much money towards this right there in the Frederick County residential area currently today. if you have watched the news and listened to the recordings, Ft. Detrick has had many spills and mishaps happen where those toxins and diseases have gotten out into the water. It is not full proof safe. And humans make plenty of mistakes. There are no signs anywhere saying water is not safe. They still give out bottled water to homes, but these people are bathing in the water.
Last comment for now: Cancer Clusters : Every single house, EVERY SINGLE HOUSE within a 3 mile radius around Ft. Detrick has died from cancer.

This is definitely cancer clusters upon clusters. On this map below there are so many marked dots on top of each other. There are thousands. "Cancer Clusters"

https://www.facebook.com/KristenReneeFoundation/photos/o.134614803254119/10150656308747438/?type=3&theater

garden whimsey

I have no ties to Ft. Detrick. My ties are to common sense.

garden whimsey

Which came first, Ft. Detrick or the houses. The answer is Ft. Detrick. If the former residents want to sue someone, sue the people who sold you the house you used to live in.

joelp77440

The probability of affects are high but the reality of a poorly put together case are clear. There is little evidence to support the conclusion which is the reason for all the lawsuits being dropped. Emotion has little bearing in court and the White's use emotion as their primary weapon in the lawsuit.

FrederickVeteran

I have friends that inhaled coal dust most for their childhood and chained smoked for decades and devolved chronic lung disease and are angry at the government for denying linkage and compensation with the Middle East Burn Pits in the war, I believe Americans are addicted to lawsuits.

Cristiann62

[thumbup]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!