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Allegations of Georgia Pacific Plant Poisoning Arkansas Residents

A Georgia Pacific paper mill, a company owned by the Koch brothers, has recently come under fire for poisoning the residents of Crossett, Arkansas for more than two decades, according to Newsweek. The mill first came to the town, now of 5,200 residents, back in the 1930s and has played a major role in employment ever since, and has changed ownership multiple times. It was not until the 1990s that residents began complaining of the toxic fumes and waste water that the plant was omitted. Residents began falling ill with respiratory conditions, the air conditioning units and copper wiring of their homes began to face extreme rates of corrosion, and the residents began staying inside as much as possible. The deadly substance included in the 1.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals, that the plant omits each year, come in the form of formaldehyde, dioxin, acetaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, and chloroform. These chemicals permeate the air, soil, and water, polluting everything in the area and downstream of the mill and are known carcinogens.

Alarming Cancer Rates

In just 15 homes located less than one mile from the plant, there have been 11 fatalities all caused by cancer. A study performed by the Arkansas Department of Health found that the city drinking water did not pose a health threat to residents, while an air quality study is currently still pending. However, many homes make use of well water, particularly on the streets nearest to the mill. Despite the high number of fatalities on the streets closest to the mill, the county, not the city itself, does not have a higher rate of cancer than the rest of Arkansas, according to a study done by the state.

Georgia-Pacific Goes Door to Door

Back in the 1990s, Georgia-Pacific went door to door, asking residents to sign releases that absolved the company from any health or property damage in exchange for lump sums of money. There has not been a whistleblower lawsuit, though there have been documentaries in which former employees have come out to tell their side of the story and what they were allegedly asked to do in terms of illegally dumping waste product and keeping quiet about air pollution measurements, as reported in the New Yorker.

We Are Here To Help

If you have knowledge of your company’s wrongdoing in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules and regulations, contact an experienced attorney with The Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996. Our environmental litigation attorneys are eager to help hold corporations liable for any harm they cause to area residents.

 

Workers’ Compensation Rates to Decrease for Employers

Due to fewer and fewer workdays missed due to accidents, 2017 will mark the third year in a row that employers will be entitled to a reduced compensation rate for workers’ compensation insurance, according to one report. According to Missouri Department of Insurance Director John M. Huff, “Missouri businesses will be pleased to hear that workers’ compensation rates on average should decrease again in 2017. 

Case Study

With 336 active carriers and rates continuing to decline, Missouri has a competitive workers’ compensation market that benefits Missouri businesses.” Specifically, there is a 2017 proposed decrease of 3.7 percent in workers’ compensation costs. This reduced cost comes along with fewer missed work days by Missouri employees, which can be thought of as fewer missed days due to injuries and illnesses. So, is the Missouri work environment becoming safer? According to these claims, yes. Or, are employees just not reporting their injuries and illnesses? The proposed changes to specific Missouri industries are as follows:

So, is the Missouri work environment becoming safer? According to these claims, yes. Or, are employees just not reporting their injuries and illnesses? The proposed changes to specific Missouri industries are as follows:

  • Decrease of 1.5 percent in manufacturing;
  • Decrease of 4.9 percent in contracting;
  • Decrease of 6.9 percent in office and clerical work;
  • Decrease of 3.8 percent in goods and services and;
  • Decrease of 2.3 percent in miscellaneous work.

However, despite the news that workers’ compensation rates are declining and that the workplace is apparently a safer place, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating a string of fatalities that have taken place recently in Missouri and the surrounding area.

Since October 1st of 2015, within Region Seven, which includes Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, there have been 45 workplace fatalities, with five fatalities taking place since August 10th, according to KWQC News. One of these fatalities involved a man who was killed by a falling tree during a tree felling service, another employee was killed by gunshot wounds, a fourth man died of heat stroke during a workday that had a heat index of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and a fourth employee, who was working with concrete, was electrocuted when a bar of rebar he was handling made contact with a live wire. All four of these separate instances, all of which occurred since August 10th, were in Missouri.

Let an Attorney Help You with your Case

If you have been injured on the job, you deserve workers’ compensation benefits. Contact or call an experienced Missouri workers compensation attorney with The Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 for immediate assistance.

Can Shareholders Nominate Placeholder Directors to the Board?

Williams Faces Takeover Attempt from Shareholder Corvex

Tulsa-based energy company Williams is facing a corporate takeover attempt by one of its biggest shareholders, the hedge fund Corvex Management, Fortune reports. Keith Meister, the head of Corvex, wants to replace the entire board of Williams with his own employees. His plan is to have those employees step down in favor of more qualified recruits once he can find them. The unusual step is the latest in a turbulent series of management and ownership shakeups for the Oklahoma oil and gas company. These types of legal issues are normal parts of corporate business law

Corvex Has Pushed for Change at Williams

Meister has disagreed with a number of key decisions by the Williams leadership over the last year. He was disappointed when Williams did not negotiate actively with their rival Enterprise Products Partners when that company approached Williams with buyout overtures. Corvex and another major Williams shareholder Soroban Capital Partners had pushed Williams to sell out to another rival, Energy Transfer Equity LP. After this deal fell apart, nearly half of the Williams board resigned.

Meister’s Placeholders Could Sidestep Director Notice Bylaws

The Wall Street Journal explains a possible motive for Meister’s unusual strategy of naming employees to the board who will then resign. He had to name his candidates for the board by this past Thursday, August 25, in order to comply with Williams’ corporate bylaws requiring advanced notice of candidates. This move buys Meister time to find new recruits to replace the board. Once he finds the new recruits, his employees can name them to the board and resign.

Other Companies May Rewrite Bylaws to Avoid Placeholder Directors

This new and untested tactic may face legal challenges, though. Williams’ current leadership may argue that the bylaw is intended to give notice to shareholders of the identity of the director who will actually serve, not a placeholder who will name someone else and step down. If it works, other companies will be changing their bylaws to prevent this corporate takeover strategy. They may even seek legislation in particular states to outlaw this tactic, just as Chesapeake Energy got a law passed in Oklahoma requiring staggered board elections to prevent takeovers.

Find a Law Firm You Can Trust

If you are a business owner or you deal with the logistics of your business, you need a law firm that can handle the full range of your company’s legal needs. Get in touch with The Bassett Law Firm. We have experience helping large corporations and negotiating high-level business moves. We serve the areas of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Call us today at 479-521-9996 to schedule a consultation with our team.