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Filing a Claim Related to the Highland Oil Spill


Clean-up efforts of an oil spill that released over 4,000 gallons of crude oil at the Pocahontas Pump Station, near Highland, Illinois, on July 10 are still on-going. While cleanup of the spill started immediately, the surrounding properties may have significant damage with oil being absorbed in to the soil where farmer’s crops are planted.

Silver Lake, which supplies water to the city of Highland and provides much of the area’s recreational activities, had been closed as a precaution. The lake reopened on Wednesday, July 22.

Plains All American Pipeline has estimated that cleanup is 95 percent complete. According to Jason Blevins, director of eastern operations for the Texas based company, “…the other five percent, we can’t give you a definite time frame on.”

Response efforts are expected to transition from an emergency response phase to an operations and maintenance phase due to the progress made in the clean-up efforts.

The Pocahontas pipeline will remain offline until further details as to what caused the spill are revealed.

Click here to learn more about the oil spill at the Plains All American Pipeline Pocahontas pump station.

Simmons Hanly Conroy is currently investigating the legal rights of those who may have been affected by the oil spill. If you live within the vicinity of the Pocahontas pump station and believe that you have experienced damage to your property or have suffered a loss of income, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to know your rights before filing a claim.

To learn more about what you should do next, contact Simmons Hanly Conroy by filling out this form or calling 1-866-468-8631.

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Asbestos-containing Crayons, Crime Scene Kits Pose Threat to Children’s Health


Earlier this week an environmental nonprofit group, the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, released a study which revealed the presence of asbestos in crayons and crime scene kits commonly used by children. Four of 28 boxes of crayons and two of 21 crime scene fingerprint kits tested positive for asbestos. All of the tainted products could be purchased in retail stores, as well as online.  The six products that contained asbestos were:

  • Amscan Crayons
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
  • Saban Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
  • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Kit (black fingerprint powder)
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit (white fingerprint powder)

Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer than affects over 3,000 Americans each year. According to an analysis by the U.K. Committee on Carcinogenicity, children who come into contact with asbestos are 3.5 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than young adults who are exposed, due to the long lag time between exposure and disease development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees that children’s longer life expectancies increase their chances of manifesting latent diseases, as they generally live longer with toxic damage. WHO also notes that children are more susceptible to harm from pollutants because of their immature and developing organs and systems, which create “critical windows of vulnerability,” to damage from toxic exposures that adults simply do not have.

Despite the thousands of lives lost to cancer as a result of asbestos exposure, the United States still has not completely banned the use of asbestos. If the U.S. took a stronger position against this deadly toxin, maybe other countries would stop trying to sell us contaminated products.

Manufactured in China and imported to the United States, the contaminated crayons and crime scene fingerprint kits are a perfect example of the lack of oversight when it comes to the production and import of consumer products.

And this isn’t the first time it’s happened.

Traces of asbestos were found in popular crayon brands in 2000. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that the risk that children would inhale or ingest asbestos fibers from those crayons was extremely low, the manufacturers agreed to change their products’ formulae to omit talc, the mineral that they had used as a binding agent, which is mined from ore that is sometimes contaminated with tremolite asbestos.

And in 2007, asbestos was discovered in the powder of toy crime scene investigation kits. The powder in these kits also contained talc.

While the use of asbestos in American brands has decreased, especially in children’s products, there is no ban or regulation in place that requires consumer products, like children’s toys, to be free of asbestos. This is an alarming fact due to the way children naturally interact with some of the products tested—for example, the powder in the crime scene fingerprint kits could easily be inhaled.

Findings such as those discovered in the EWP Action Fund’s study underscore the importance of banning the use of asbestos in products. We have a duty to protect our children, who rely on us to advocate for them and keep them out of harm’s way.

Whether on a manufacturing or governmental level, changes need to be made to keep the safety of our children intact. You can help make sure that children are not subjected to the dangers of asbestos by signing the EWG Action Fund’s petition to stop sales of contaminated products.

Together, we can keep our children safe.

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Georgia Reporter’s Hidden Camera Finds FACT Act Supporter American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is Anything but “Transparent”


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a secretive “charity” that is run and funded by large corporations that subsidize the involvement of state lawmakers. New insights from news reporter Brandon Keefe, who attempted to attend ALEC’s spring meeting, shows the organization’s complete lack of transparency – which is contrary to the reasoning behind many of its bills. Keefe was eventually kicked out of the meeting, and the police were called to ensure he stayed out.

Prior to being kicked out, however, Keefe’s conversations with lobbyists and legislators revealed that the lobbyists’ fees to attend ALEC events actually help subsidize legislators. Despite this admission to Keefe (recorded on his hidden camera) and ALEC’s claims of “transparency”, the organization later denied to Keefe that ALEC legislators are being subsidized by corporate lobbyists.

Those lawmakers push for the enactment of model bills written by the corporations that pay them – bills that would benefit those big corporations. Bills like the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.” ALEC and the national Chamber of Commerce are leading the effort to pass the FACT Act in the United States.

In 2013, asbestos companies used their political influence to first introduce the FACT Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under the guise of transparency, the bill will delay, and in some cases, deny justice and badly needed compensation to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases.

Another example of this is Georgia’s Asbestos Claims Priorities Act, which was coincidently passed the same year that its sponsors received thousands of dollars to attend ALEC conferences. The bill maliciously limits who can file an asbestos claim against corporations in the state of Georgia.

In recent years, 104 major American corporations have cut ties with ALEC because of its controversial policies. One of those corporations was BP, which recently ended its affiliation with the organization. In addition to bills like the FACT Act, ALEC is responsible for other contentious bills and issues such as voter suppression laws, extreme gun laws and climate change denial.

Watch the investigative video below for more details.

You can learn more about the FACT Act by reading the below blogs:

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Asbestos and Mesothelioma News Wrap Up: March 2015


The asbestos attorneys at Simmons Hanly Conroy are committed to giving you the latest asbestos and mesothelioma news. Below is a group of some of the most recent news stories covering asbestos exposure, mesothelioma research and other headlines from throughout the globe.

  • Study finds 21 new cases of mesothelioma in group of MN miners
    mesothelioma newsA group of 69,000 mine workers were exposed to asbestos while employed in Minnesota’s iron mining industry between the 1930s and 1982. Among that group, 21 more men have been diagnosed with mesothelioma – in addition to the 80 cases previously identified, that brings the total of mesothelioma cases to 101.
  • VIDEO: ADAO – “Asbestos Kills”
    The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) recently released a video promoting Global Asbestos Awareness Week, which runs from April 1 – 7. Watch and share the video to help spread asbestos awareness.
  • The Asbestos Transparency Farce
    Corporate institutions aim to push legislation through Congress that is all about invading the privacy rights of its victims – primarily the individuals who have been physically harmed by asbestos exposure at the hands of such corporations.

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Petersen/Siddall Families and Law Firms Present Fire Prevention Gift to SIUE


Fire Prevention check Chancellor's office 03-10-15The families of Lauren Petersen and Lacy Siddall along with their attorneys Ted Gianaris of Simmons Hanly Conroy and Tom Long, of Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard PC, have partnered with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to produce a fire safety video in memory of SIUE students Lauren and Lacy.

The two women passed away from their injuries after their off-campus apartment caught fire in April 2012. The video will share the girls’ stories and emphasize the importance of fire safety for college students. The families and their attorneys have each donated $5,000 toward the video production, for a total of $20,000.

“No one should have to experience the pain and suffering these two families have gone through,” said Gianaris. “It was an honor to represent the Petersen family, and if this video can help prevent another family from experiencing similar heartache then it is well worth the effort.”

The 19-year-old Petersen was a student in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences. The 21-year-old Siddall was studying speech-language pathology in the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.

The families and their attorneys fought a large insurance company for two years before winning in 2014. During the fight, they all agreed that if they won they would use some of the proceeds to honor the girls and try to prevent college fire tragedies in the future.

The initial work on the project started March 10 with the families meeting with Residence Life Cinema, a division of Swank Motion Pictures, to discuss storyboarding for the video. The film company hopes to have it ready to release this fall in time for 2015 freshman orientation.

Residence Life Cinema provides campuses nationwide with entertainment, student development content and communication tools through campus channels and streaming technology. Their services include serving as a recruitment and retention tool, and encouraging student success by addressing critical issues such as campus safety, binge drinking and sexual assault through various programming materials.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.

Credit: -SIUE News- http://www.siue.edu/news/2015/03/PetersenSiddallFamiliesLawFirmsPresentFirePreventionGift.shtml

Photo (L-R): Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Ted Gianaris, SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe, Rex and Bobbie Petersen, Shirley and Coy Siddall, and Thomas Long, counsel at Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard PC.

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