Suit filed over St. Louis test spraying

Nov. 21, 2012 at 2:14 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- An academic study of chemical spraying of St. Louis neighborhoods as a Cold War military exercise has spawned interest, and a lawsuit, a lawyer says.

News of Lisa Martino-Taylor's doctoral dissertation on the city and its involvement in a government-sponsored biological weapons test program in the 1950s and 1960s, in which a variety of chemical powders entered the air to track their dispersal patterns, reminded former city Marshal Benjamin Phillips of his childhood in the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex and men on rooftops in protective suits spewing what seemed like a fog of bug spray, his lawyer, Elkin Kistner said.

Phillips is currently the sole plaintiff in what Kistner seeks to become a class action lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday.

Court documents submitted by Phillips, who Kistner says has an ear tumor that may or may not be related to the chemical exposure, describes the spraying of "cadmium, including potentially radioactive cadmium, without the knowledge or consent of those residents," and Merino-Taylor's work, while highlighting studies reporting chronic lung and respiratory illnesses from airborne zinc calcium sulfide, raises the possibility of use of radioactive materials in the tests.

The lawsuit names as defendants the Parsons Co., a government contractor known to have conducted the tests; SRI International, which Martino-Taylor's research says designed air-sampling equipment; and Monsanto, the chemical company which offered the government use of its St. Louis plant.

Kistner said other potential plaintiffs have contracted him, noting, "In my view, these people are at least entitled to nominal damages. You can't go spraying stuff on a bunch of people without their consent."

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