ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Dozens of Rockton residents who were forced from their homes after a massive fire at the Chemtool factory last week are now taking legal action.
Three lawsuits have been filed against Chemtool’s parent company, Lubrizol., claiming Chemtool was negligent with their production facility.
One of the lawsuits was filed on Friday, the same day the evacuation order was lifted. The most recent was filed on Monday afternoon.
Chemtool, at 1165 Prairie Hill Road, caught fire and exploded in the early morning hours of Monday, June 14th. Authorities evacuated residents and businesses within a one-mile radius of the plant.
Residents have claimed they have experienced trouble breathing, and are dealing with bad odors as a result of the explosion.
“The best thing to do is, you should get an attorney if you have any damages for anything as a result of the fire. Then you should get an attorney,” said Tim Mahoney, an attorney and owner of the Law Offices of Mahoney and Mahoney, at 6735 Vistagreen Way in Rockford.
Mahoney says residents’ best course of action is to take part in a class action lawsuit.
“You’re fee will roughly be the same. It’ll go up a bit, because of the class [action], but so will your leverage in your ability to get reasonably compensated,” Mahoney said.
He says the fact that the cause of the fire is unknown at this point in time will make the process longer.
“This is going to be a complicated lawsuit, because of how that explosion and fire started: who started it and why, what led up to that’s going to take a great deal of effort to figure all of that out,” he said.
Two investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board are being deployed to Rockton to determine the circumstances that led to last week’s Chemtool plant explosion.
Mahoney had a few recommendations for those who are considering filing a lawsuit.
“Call your doctor, call your lawyer, take photos of everything. Start keeping a journal, if you’re having any types of troubles: physically, emotionally, mentally,” he advised. “And don’t sign anything until your lawyer has a chance to look at it.”
Mahoney also added that there is a cutoff period to join the class action suits.