Kipp facade

Neighbors of Madison Kipp Corporation's Atwood Avenue plant, shown here, filed suit in federal court Thursday seeking clean-up of contaminants and property damages.

Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal

After years of complaints of noise, air, water and soil pollution, seven neighbors of Madison Kipp Corporation are filing a lawsuit against the  metal fabricator over practices at its plant on the city's east side.

Here's a press release about the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday:

"Seven families living on Marquette Street in Madison, Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court early today against Madison-Kipp Corporation, alleging that the nearby manufacturer is the source of dangerous chemical contamination recently discovered at their homes, and that Madison-Kipp has failed for more than fifteen years to adequately investigate and cleanup the contamination.

"The seven families bringing the lawsuit are: Kathleen McHugh and Eric Fuller at 146 S. Marquette Street; Kenneth Hennrick, Jr. at 142 S. Marquette Street; Deanna Schneider at 150 S. Marquette Street; Doris Yang Berge and Prentice Berge at 154 S. Marquette Street; Peter Uttech at 162 S. Marquette Street; Sharon Helmus and Carla Mills at 166 S. Marquette Street; and Chad Gooblis and Brandi Rogers at 202 S. Marquette Street.

"These families allege that a human carcinogen known as tetrachloroethylene ("PCE"), as well as other toxins, have been released from Madison-Kipp's manufacturing facility located at 201 Waubesa Street, Madison. The families further allege that these chemical releases have contaminated the groundwater beneath their homes, and that the contamination in the groundwater has migrated in vapor form up through the soil, and has entered, or threatens to enter, their homes. For example, PCE has been discovered in and around these homes, in soil and in vapor, both immediately underneath and inside some of the homes.

"The lawsuit seeks a thorough investigation into the contamination on the properties of these seven families and throughout the residential neighborhood surrounding the plant. Also, the families demand a thorough clean-up of the contamination on their properties, as well as a clean-up of any other contamination found through further investigation. Finally, the lawsuit seeks compensation for property damage due to the contamination, as well as punitive damages, claiming that Madison-Kipp has known for years of the risk to these seven families and their neighbors, but did not act responsibly to protect them.

"The Plaintiffs are represented by Shawn M. Collins, Edward J. Manzke of The Collins Law Firm, Naperville, IL; Norman B. Berger, Michael D. Hayes and of Varga Berger Ledsky Hayes & Casey, Chicago, IL and Richard J. Lewandowski of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., Madison, Wisconsin."


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After this post went up, I talked with Kipp spokesman Mark Meunier, who said the company hasn't seen the lawsuit yet, but offered this comment: "We're looking forward to vigorously defending against this action. Since the mid-1990s we have been engaged in a voluntary comprehensive soil and groundwater investigation and remediation project, working closely with the DNR for past release of solvents we haven't used since 1987. We have recently agreed to undertake activities on our site that far exceed any enforceable environmental standards the DNR could require of us."

Meunier wouldn't say what those actions were, but the DNR has been working with the company on a plan to prevent contaminants from leaking to neighboring properties, as outlined in this post last week.

Neighbors met with company and DNR officials on Saturday, but apparently were not convinced voluntary action by the company will be adequate.