Settlement Reached for Lower Fox River and Green Bay Site Cleanup and Restoration

Madison, WI — Six parties including the City of Appleton, CBC Coating, Inc., Menasha Corporation, the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission, U.S. Paper Mills Corp., and WTM I Company announced that there has been a $54 million settlement of certain claims related to the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Site. 

The United States and the State of Wisconsin lodged an agreement in federal court that settles certain federal government, state government, and tribal claims against four paper companies and two municipalities related to historical PCB contamination of the Lower Fox River and Green Bay.  As part of the settlement, the six settling companies and municipalities have agreed to pay $54 million for cleanup and natural resource damages and will receive protection against the claims of the non-settling parties. The settling tribes are the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.  The six settling companies and municipalities are the City of Appleton, CBC Coating, Inc., Menasha Corporation, the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission, U.S. Paper Mills Corp., and WTM I Company.  The settlement will not be effective unless and until it has been approved by the federal court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The settlement was filed in United States of America and the State of Wisconsin, Plaintiffs, v. NCR Corporation, et al, Defendants, Case 1:10-cv-00910-WCG, DKT 924 and 924-1.

The settlement amount and individual shares were negotiated over many months with the help of a mediator, U.S. magistrate judge Aaron E. Goodstein.  Appleton Mayor Hanna said, “We are glad to see that the lawsuit filed by the federal and state governments against the City will be resolved.” 

The $54 million settlement amount is in addition to previous contributions by the settling parties toward site remediation and restoration.  This settlement also follows several others between the governments and other municipalities, paper companies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of which have been approved by the federal court.  Appleton City Attorney Jim Walsh states, “Based on the discussions to date, it is the City’s expectation that its insurers will pay the settlement amount.”

The settled claims relate to discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Fox River, originating from the manufacture of carbonless copy paper from 1954–1971 by Appleton Coated Paper Company and NCR Corporation in the Appleton area, and from the recycling of that paper by some paper mills throughout the Fox River Valley.

The paper recyclers and the municipalities that treated the parties’ wastewater did not know the paper being recycled contained PCBs until after Appleton Coated and NCR stopped manufacturing the paper with PCBs in it.

Stafford Rosenbaum attorneys, Paul G. Kent, Richard C. Yde, Ted Waskowski, and Marney I. Hoefer, represent the City of Appleton.  The remaining five settling parties are represented by Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.; Hunsucker Goodstein PC; Davis & Kuelthau, s.c.; Quarles and Brady LLP; and von Briesen & Roper, s.c. 

More information on the settlement agreement can be read at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Appleton Post Crescent websites. 

With offices in Madison and Milwaukee, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP offers a full array of legal services to businesses, governments, and individuals.  As we celebrate our 135th anniversary, communication continues to be at the heart of our practice.  Find out more at www.staffordlaw.com and on LinkedIn.