Dunbar toxic sludge lawsuit gets a jury trial date

Published: August 9, 2018 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: August 28, 2018 4:16 PM EDT

A potential three-week jury trial is scheduled for December 2019, to address the toxic sludge site in Dunbar, pending a settlement.

Just last week, the City of Fort Myers outlined three options for what they are calling “voluntary” cleanup, including turning the site into a park.

MORE: City of Fort Myers releases cleanup plans for Dunbar sludge site

No matter what happens in court, Dunbar neighbors want justice.

“They can clean it up all they want to, they done the damage already, they know they done the damage,” said Dunbar resident Rickey Rogers.

Wednesday was the first court date for the Dunbar sludge scandal. There was less than an hour of agreeable exchange between attorneys.

“That’s positive, positive we’re hearing something now,” said Rogers.

Rogers is one of more than 350 people involved in a lawsuit against the City of Fort Myers over an arsenic-tainted sludge site in the Dunbar neighborhood.

“We weren’t hearing a lot, and today they met and I hope they continue to meet and we can go forward,” said Rogers.

Ralf Brookes, the community’s attorney, says they have asked for a jury trail.

“I think it’s important that citizens of Lee County get to hear the evidence in this trial,” Brookes said.

Meanwhile, attorneys have their work cut out for them, with a large amount of documents and discovery to sift through.

“Each one of these classes need to be defined in terms of years they lived there, the properties they own, the geographic range – another group played in sludge,” said Brookes.

The Dunbar community also has help from the University of Miami.

“The community has been wronged and I think the City is starting to hear those voices and hopefully will do the right thing,” said Natalie Barefoot with the University of Miami School of Law.

The City promises to make all of the deadlines, including cleaning the site by the end of this year.

“Hopefully the jury will make the right decision,” Rogers said. “We really need help over here.”