Continental Carbon Company Settles Class Action Lawsuits
Continental Carbon Company (CCC) received final approval by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma of the settlement agreements in two class action lawsuits claiming that carbon black emissions from the company's Ponca City, Okla. manufacturing plant damaged nearby properties, an Aug. 3 press release said.
Following a hearing before Judge Robin Cauthron in Oklahoma City on July 28, the court entered final orders approving settlements reached previously. In the first case, The Ponca Tribe of Indians, et. al. v. Continental Carbon Company, et. al, CCC agreed to pay the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and class members $10.5 million. In the second case, Annie Owen v, Continental Carbon Company, CCC agreed to make $800,000 available to 11,000 Ponca City property owners if they establish actual damages caused by plant carbon black emissions.
By taking this course of action, CCC will avoid protracted and expensive litigation, in particular because "There were serious and novel questions of law and fact and the ultimate outcome of the litigation was in doubt," according to Judge Cauthron.
"While we strongly disagree with the claims of the plaintiffs in both of these class action lawsuits, settling these cases allows our company to focus on managing our business in a highly competitive environment. The work we do and the way we behave have long-lasting effects on our employees and their family members, our customers, our suppliers and the Ponca City community as a whole, so it is best to move forward. CCC remains committed to doing the right thing in terms of corporate and environmental stewardship," commented Kim K. T. Pan, president of Continental Carbon Company.
Based on Judge Cauthron's order, CCC also secured permanent terms and conditions for addressing any future disputes in the community concerning claimed air emissions from its plant. The procedure focuses on having people with complaints give immediate notice to CCC so that the source of the problem can be identified and validated by scientific facts. In the past, few complaints were made in time to allow accurate identification of the root source of the problem so that rumor and myth essentially substituted for science. Under the settlements approved by the court, complaints must be made to Continental Carbon within seven days so that samples can be taken, if necessary. The sampled material can then be examined and tested quickly to get reliable results.
According to the company's press release, Continental Carbon is a leading manufacturer of carbon black, a key ingredient used in the production of tire, rubber, ink, and plastic products. Its Ponca City plant deploys state-of-the-art environmental control technology and manufacturing equipment and is ISO 9001 and ISO14001 certified to meet stringent product quality requirements and to comply with strict environmental regulations.