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Dr. Smith vs. The Lawyer

A lawyer's use of some very simple science and math. The facts are true, although simplified; the company names have been changed.

Acme Enameling Company operated a cast-iron foundry and enameling plant, where it made bathtubs and sinks for twenty-seven years. It dumped factory wastes on vacant property behind the plant. Zenith Construction Company then bought the property and used it as a construction waste landfill.

Years later, Zenith decided to develop the property as an office park. In preliminary testing, Zenith discovered that the property was contaminated with lead. The State will not allow any development until the lead is removed to permissible levels. Zenith sues Acme, claiming that Acme's factory wastes are the source of the lead, and demanding that Acme pay $26 million to clean up the problem. Acme says that almost all its wastes were clean sand and foundry wastes, containing no lead. Acme retains an expert, Dr. Smith, who submits a report saying that the levels of lead contamination on the site could not have come from Acme. He says that the landfill must be the source of the lead contamination.

Grade Level: Middle School (6-8)
Curriculum Topic Benchmarks: M2.3.10, M3.2.1, M3.3.1, M3.3.14, M4.3.4, M4.3.10, M4.3.14, M4.3.17, S15.3.1
Subject Keywords: Pollution, Landfill, Law, Lead, Enamel, Multiplication, Units, Liability, Expert

Author(s): Joseph L. Ruby
PUMAS ID: 03_19_97_1
Date Received: 1997-03-19
Date Revised: 1997-10-20
Date Accepted: 1997-10-28

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