Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Odors from Purina Pet Food Plant Receives Objection from Two Class Plaintiffs

When a large production plant or manufacturing facility exists in close proximity to a residential community, there is ample opportunity for conflict between the corporate interests and the homeowners.

Such conflicts often include noise complaints, danger to community members, including young children, noxious odors, and other emissions that threaten the physical health, quality of life, property values, peace, and enjoyment of those living in surrounding areas. For instance, due to the prevalence of food processing and animal agricultural operations throughout Pennsylvania, and the potential for odorous emissions being generated by this type of manufacturing, odor management standards, programs, and practices have become a substantial source of debate and concern. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, discord between the Purina pet food company, a subset of Nestle Purina Petcare Company based in St. Louis, MO, and local residents has led to a class action lawsuit.

What were the original details of the lawsuit?

Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Odors from Purina Pet Food Plant Receives Objection from Two Class PlaintiffsThe lawsuit, spearheaded by a legal team that includes Kamensky Cohen Riechelson’s own Kevin Riechelson, claimed that noxious smells from the pet food production process were adversely affecting the peace and wellbeing of Allentown neighbors. According to the class action suit, which was first filed in August of 2020 by lead plaintiffs Mark Fuehrer and Lori Fuehrer, local properties have been “physically invaded by noxious odors…which entered plaintiffs’ properties originating from defendant’s facility.” The odors, which, according to the details of the lawsuit, come from the process of drying and cooking ingredients such as raw proteins and animal fats, produce “highly odiferous emissions” that are released into the air surrounding the facility. The lawsuit explained that, in addition to the odors, the facility also produces massive amounts of organic waste. This waste, which is disposed of on-site at the outset, is not properly attended to given the nature of its ingredients, such as animal fats. Additionally, because the Purina facility has an on-site wastewater treatment process, this process of treating waste creates additional malodorous byproducts.

On March 17, 2021, the plaintiffs submitted an initial settlement that would serve to resolve the ongoing class action lawsuit. This proposed settlement called for an $800,000 payout within 30 days of the established date to all named class members and owners or residents of residential properties within a one and three-quarter-mile radius of the plant who resided in their proximal home during the named Settlement Class Period. Class members needed to have submitted proof of their claim within the established time frame and not explicitly mentioned their desire to be excluded from the lawsuit. The established time frame ended on June 1, 2021.

The class action settlement terms were preliminarily approved one day after submission on March 18, 2021, by US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Edward G. Smith. The Honorable Judge Smith noted, “The Court finds that the settlement agreement between the parties appears, upon preliminary review, to be a settlement in good faith, fair, adequate, reasonable, and in the best interests of the settlement class, and is preliminarily approved by the Court; etc., as herein.”

What has changed since the original settlement proposal was preliminarily approved?

Just over a week after the deadline to submit claims or opt-out of the suit, counsel for the lead plaintiffs in the case informed the court that two settlement class members submitted an objection to the terms of the settlement. Despite the objection, the lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, Mark and Lori Fuehrer, have stated that they believe the objections should not deter the case from reaching the proposed settlement resolution, as only one couple among many participants has raised an objection. It was also noted that the Purina plant has made significant improvements to its processes in order to reduce the noxious odors emanating from the facility.

Response to the objection notice also pointed out that the settlement payouts would represent fair compensation for damages to livelihood and property experienced to this point. Those who object may bring forth future lawsuits should issues continue to arise that cause further damage to property values or physical health. Overall, the reaction from the vast majority of class participants has been extremely favorable, thus outweighing the isolated objections of two individuals.

Because of the objection to the class action settlement and its response, a fairness hearing will be overseen by the Honorable Judge Smith on June 25, 2021.

A Mission, a Passion, a Commitment

The personal injury attorneys at Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson are united in their shared commitment to advocating for those who have been harmed by the negligence of others throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The members of our legal team serve as passionate advocates for clients whose physical, emotional, and financial lives have been jeopardized at the hands of companies, individuals, and organizations who fail to exercise due care.

We refuse to back down in the face of corporations and other powerful interests whose expansive resources often intimidate and overwhelm innocent victims. When you or someone you love has experienced the detrimental impacts of another party’s actions or failures to act in accordance with their duties, our lawyers stand in the gap, employing our depth of knowledge and practical skill applying the law, to achieve just compensation.

To discuss your legal matter with an experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer who can personally advise and assist you, contact us online or by telephone at (609) 528-2596 from New Jersey or (215) 337-4915 from Pennsylvania. Take the first step toward getting answers and asserting your rights, and reach out to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Not All Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in NJ

New Jersey´s workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance scheme that pays for medical care, salary replacement, and long-term disability benefits to employees who are injured or sick on the job.

Not All Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in NJ Workers’ compensation also pays death benefits to the dependents of workers who died as a result of their work. Regardless of who was to blame, a wounded employee will be compensated. Except in circumstances of deliberate conduct, the worker does not have the right to sue the employer for pain and suffering or other damages in return for these promised benefits.

There is a common misconception that any injury sustained at work must be compensated by workers’ compensation. That, however, is not the case. There are various types of work-related injuries that are just not compensable. Workers’ compensation never includes injuries that are outside of work. An injury must not only occur at work, but it must also not occur outside of work. There are several important principles in every state that assist clarify and expand on the meaning of “not arising out of employment” for catastrophic injuries.

Personal Risk Claims and Idiopathic Claims

These two doctrines have a lot in common. When an employee has a prior medical condition that is the real cause of the damage, the term “idiopathic” is used. An employee with severe osteoarthritis, for example, is going down the hall at work when his knee locks, but he does not collapse. The doctor checks the patient and determines that the act of walking has caused more knee injury due to severe osteoarthritis. Because the injury was totally personal to the employee and not caused by employment, this is a classic idiopathic claim.

Consider an employee who has had previous shoulder dislocation troubles who puts on her coat to go home after work and has a fresh shoulder dislocation. Despite the fact that it occurred at work, it was not caused by it. The petitioner was simply doing what we all do when we leave work on a cold day: putting on our jackets. Shoulder dislocations are considered idiopathic, meaning they are not caused by work-related activities.

Abandonment of Employment

There are two key applications for this theory. The first is an activity that is either unrelated to work or so far removed from it that a reasonable person would never engage in it. For example, a lawyer standing outside his office phones a colleague sitting at his desk on his mobile phone, requesting him to come outside and assist him in carrying work files inside the office. Instead of walking down the stairs or taking the elevator, the colleague opens his window and leaps 20 feet to the ground, fracturing his leg. Jumping from a window is such a dangerous action that no sane person would undertake it. Although the injury occurred at work, it would not be considered a job-related incident. An employer should not be required to insure against acts that are intrinsically risky and that no rational person would engage in.

Intentional Self-Injury

This is a type of self-injury when employees who harm themselves on purpose are nearly invariably refused compensation. If an enraged employee punches a wall at work and breaks her hand, the damage would not be compensable since striking a wall is extremely likely to result in self-harm. Similarly, if Employee A assaults Employee B and is hurt as a result, courts will nearly invariably rule that the injury was self-inflicted and not compensable. Employee B’s injuries would, of course, be covered as an assault victim.

Sports and Recreational Activities

Let’s say an employee chooses to bring out some rope during his morning break, go away from his desk, and jump rope for a few minutes, only to get her foot twisted up in the rope, resulting in an injury. Is this anything that would be covered by workers’ compensation? Isn’t it true that that happened at work? Recreational activities that only benefit the employee’s health are not covered under New Jersey law, thus this would not be compensable. To be covered, a recreational activity must provide a benefit to the employer that is higher than health and morale, and it must be a regular occurrence at work. Few leisure activities can claim to provide a bigger value to the employer than improved health and morale. The same may be said for social activities.

Personal Risk Claims and Idiopathic Claims NJ However, if two employees are joking around at work and one throws a pencil at the other as a joke, but the pencil hits the other employee in the eye, the court would likely see this conduct as horseplay – – not recreational. Horseplay is not a defense in New Jersey, unlike in many other states. Horseplay is always compensable for the victim and occasionally for the initiator. There is a distinction to be made between horseplay and assaults/altercations, and the results may vary depending on whether that distinction is crossed.

Workers’ compensation rules are intended to establish a fair process for getting benefits after being injured or sick at work. These statutes are frequently difficult to comprehend. If you miss a deadline or fail to complete the proper papers, you may be denied the benefits you are entitled to.

Retain our Trenton NJ  Workers Compensation Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, we represent clients with workers’ compensation and personal injury claims in Princeton, Trenton, and the greater Mercer County area. So whether you have yet to decide your next steps fully or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.

You can call us at 609.528.2596 or contact us through our online contact form for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.

Smartphone Data Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

As smartphone usage, capabilities, and technology continues to develop, smartphones and other “smart” devices like smartwatches and sports bands are increasingly playing an important role not only in our everyday lives but in personal injury claims as well.

Considering the amount and types of data that these devices can record, it is no surprise that both insurance companies and injury victims are turning to these devices to supplement, and at times contest, the evidentiary record during the personal injury claims process.

When it comes to your personal injury claim and how the data contained within your smart device can impact the strength or success of your claim, here is what you need to know:

What Information Can the Insurance Company Access on My Smartphone?

Smartphone Data Can Impact Your Personal Injury CaseOne of the most common questions our Mercer County, personal injury clients have of us during the personal injury process is what kind of access and information the insurance company has a right to regarding the data contained on their phone or other types of smart devices.

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question, as the kinds of evidence the insurance company can request during the discovery process depend a great deal upon the relevance of this potential evidence to different areas of your particular case. For example, if you mention that you discussed your injuries or accident with a particular friend, the insurance company may be able to compel you to disclose all of your conversations with this friend, including messaging history on apps like WhatsApp, Line, and Google Hangouts.

Additionally, if there is a question as to your whereabouts at a given time or how your injuries have prevented you from performing certain actions such as routine exercise or traveling, for example, the insurance company can compel you to disclose the GPS record contained within any smart devices they believe you would have had on your person when performing any of these activities.

Smartphones and Your Mercer County Personal Injury Claim

The level of information that your smart devices can contain and the insurance company’s ability to access the information they feel is relevant to your personal injury matter all lead us to several important conclusions.

First and foremost, while honesty with both your attorney and the insurance company is essential during any personal injury claim because much of what you claim can be contested, or verified, using the information contained within your smart device makes it that much more important that you are completely truthful about what happened, how it happened. The affects your injuries have had on your life. Any exaggeration or embellishment you make, if discovered to be such through evidence collected on your smartphone or through any other means, may mean that you ultimately recover much less than you actually deserve, if you can make a recovery at all.

Smartphone Data Can Impact Your Personal Injury CaseSecondly, smart devices can be a double-edged sword. In some cases, the information contained within these devices can help you, and your Mercer County personal injury attorney verify your location at the time of your accident. Maybe the information contained within the smart device of a witness to your accident can verify how the accident happened! Conversely, it may be the case that you accidentally left your phone at your friend’s house, and the insurance company using the GPS data contained within your phone may say that you were actually at your friend’s house rather than at the scene of the accident you are claiming caused your injuries.

Trenton Personal Injury Law Firm Helps Protect Your Smart Device Data and Maximize Your Recovery

The bottom line is that your smart devices, and the information they contain within them, are increasingly playing a more influential role in the success of any personal injury claim you may file for accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, construction accidents, premises liability claims, and more. This means that your personal injury attorney’s investigative work for you and their ability to present these findings to a court and insurance companies is becoming that much more important due to the increasing availability of information and the access to that information that smartphones and other smart devices are providing.

At Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson, our attorneys have extensive experience successfully recovering full and fair compensation for the victims of the reckless or negligent actions of other parties in personal injury claims of all kinds in towns across New Jersey and Mercer County, including New Brunswick, Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and Lawrence.

Practicing law since 1972, our firm has the knowledge, experience, and commitment to attentive and effective service you and your family need to navigate the increasingly complex process of any personal injury claim and ultimately recover the financial compensation that your family needs and deserves.

To speak with our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your accident and resulting injuries, your options for recovering financial compensation for those injuries, or how the information contained within your smartphone may affect your personal injury claim, please contact us online, or through our Trenton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596.

Key Components and Process of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in NJ

A personal injury lawsuit can cover anything from a medical malpractice case due to a product or procedure that causes harm

Key Components and Process of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in NJAccidents happen. It is a part of life and a part of being human. However, not all accidents have to happen. Because it is our responsibility as citizens of New Jersey to be mindful and careful of our actions, there are laws established to protect those who are injured as the result of someone else’s negligence. When someone is injured in such an accident, it is their right to be able to focus on their healing, resting assured that the finances related to the accident or time lost from work will be covered. A personal injury lawsuit helps the victim of an accident do just this, and the expert guidance of a skilled personal injury attorney can support that process to include finances necessary to ensure a full recovery, even if therapies must continue into the future.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

A personal injury lawsuit can cover anything from a medical malpractice case due to a product or procedure that causes harm, a car accident, a slip-and-fall accident on someone’s property, an animal bite, libel, or defamation. In short, anything that causes physical, emotional, or professional damage could potentially be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit.

In New Jersey, the state Civil Division tries personal injury cases. The outcome of these cases are determined based on a handful of factors:

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are all expenses that relate specifically to the injury, such as medical procedures, pharmaceutical costs, and lifestyle support changes due to the injury. Such medical expenses could extend into the future; for example, if ongoing chiropractic treatment will be needed to support the full recovery of the victim of a car accident, estimated future costs of therapeutic measures will be taken into consideration in the lawsuit.

Out-of-pocket costs

These costs are expenses that the victim must shoulder in order to get the care and supplies needed due to their injury. There are a wide variety of out-of-pocket costs that a victim may not immediately consider expenses related to the accident, as injury causes subtle shifts in lifestyle necessities that wouldn’t have otherwise been needed. A personal injury attorney will help the victim discern which out-of-pocket costs were directly related to the injury, for inclusion in the claim.

Pain and suffering

Contact Our Mercer County NJ Lawyers TodayContrary to medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs, which are more objective, the cost of pain and suffering caused by the accident are a bit more of a subjective measure. A personal injury attorney will support the victim in determining what the cost of the accident has been on the victim’s psychological and overall well-being; this will include any professional psychological support that needs to be sought due to the accident.

Lost income

After an accident, a victim often must take time off from work in order to tend to physical injuries. This, of course, can cause a financial strain. A personal injury lawsuit takes into account the income lost to date and projected future income lost.

Based on the projections of these four factors, the size of the personal injury claim is calculated. Generally speaking, a personal injury attorney will withdraw some portion of the settlement for their services, meaning that they only get paid when the settlement is reached and the victim receives financial damages. Because of this contingency basis, personal injury attorneys are only likely to take up cases that they believe that they will win.

Following Time Limits For Filing A Personal Injury Claim and New Jersey Shared Fault Laws

New Jersey Revised Statutes 2A:14-2 notes that the Statute of Limitations on personal injury cases is two years. This means that after two years since the accident occurred, a plaintiff who files a personal injury claim will likely not be heard in court. With few exceptions such as extenuating circumstances, this is the general time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

In addition, because New Jersey operates under shared fault laws, if the victim, or claimant, is found to have been partially responsible for the accident, their total financial claim will be reduced by the percentage for which they were found responsible. If they were more than half responsible for causing the accident, they relinquish rights to financial compensation for their injuries.

Contact Our Mercer County Accident and Injury Lawyers Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in guiding clients across Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area through the process of filing and carrying out a personal injury lawsuit.

To meet with an experienced member of our firm today regarding your accident, please contact us online or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596.

How to value a wrongful death claim in NJ

In New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss.

Financial Impact vs Emotional Loss in Wrongful Death Cases Mercer County NJCoping with the death of a loved one can be so stressful and emotionally draining. You may be experiencing overwhelming grief and at the same time anger about your loss. You may have to plan a funeral, settle your loved one’s personal and business responsibilities, and deal with suddenly intense financial needs as a result of your loss.

But you may be eligible to win financial compensation by means of a wrongful death claim. It depends on the cause of your loved one’s death, either by medical malpractice, an accident in the workplace, a deadly assault, or other circumstances.

What Is Wrongful Death in New Jersey?

“Wrongful death” is defined as the death of a person due to an act that should not have occurred (such as neglect), or an act that the person would have been compensated for had they survived. Common wrongful death cases include:

Who Can Benefit?

A wrongful death claim can be made by the surviving dependents of the deceased person, according to N.J.S.A. 2A:31-4.  These can include:

  • A spouse and any children or grandchildren.
  • Parents of a deceased person, typically if that person was unmarried with no children.
  • Siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased person.
  • Anyone who is able to prove that he or she was truly dependent on the deceased person.

First priority in paying out wrongful death cases is given to the surviving spouse and children, then to parents, and then to siblings, nieces, and nephews.

What Can I Seek Compensation For?

Commonly, people file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for:

  • What Can I Seek Compensation For?Loss of the finances provided by the deceased person. This is based on the amount of money that the deceased would have earned had he or she lived.
  • Loss of household services, like childcare and chores.
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, or care.
  • The expense of medical care related to the injury, and funeral expenses related to death.

Please note that, in New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss. Surviving family members cannot recover from emotional distress or seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.

However, depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you might be able to make a claim under the NJ Survival Statute. This allows the estate of the victim to pursue compensation for suffering and pain, as well as lost wages and medical expenses, that the victim experienced during the time of the accident to the untimely death.

Finally, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations to file the claim. All wrongful death cases in New Jersey must be filed within at most two years of the date of death. Beyond that two-year time limit, the case will most likely not proceed.

Why would I go ahead with a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death case can provide the money you need to pay outstanding medical bills or funeral costs. It can help your family replace the income you’ve lost, and will continue to lose, as a result of the wrongful death.

The case might also benefit you by bringing the person responsible for the death to account. Often, a wrongful death lawsuit is the only way to do this.

These are important benefits, but there are also important potential costs to think about.

Potential Downsides of a Wrongful Death Case

During a wrongful death case:

  • You may have to talk about the accident and about your loved one. This can be emotionally difficult.
  • You may feel as if you are putting a price tag on your loss. However, you are not profiting financially from your loved one’s death.

If you choose to file a wrongful death claim, it is your attorney’s job to make the process go as smoothly as possible for you.

How do I file?

Contact Monmouth County NJ Lawyers TodayMost states require a wrongful death case to be filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased person, who brings the wrongful death case for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving spouse and children if there are any, or more distant relatives if not.

Why would I need a wrongful death lawyer?

A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, prove your case, and recover damages in court or reach a fair settlement. In reaching a settlement, your lawyer knows how to leverage evidence and present convincing arguments to get the best settlement. Your attorney can also make sure that all of your rights are protected.

Contact Trenton NJ Lawyers Today

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelmingly stressful. You need an attorney who is not only compassionate but also able to leverage legal knowledge and experience to fight for your rights.

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, Our team’s skill, and dedication to your family, can make all the difference in securing compensation for the unwarranted loss of your loved one in  Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.

To arrange a free consultation to discuss your wrongful death claim, please contact us online, or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596. We look forward to working with you.