County Settles Lawsuit With Employees Over Alleged Toxic Building

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The County of Orange has settled an ongoing lawsuit with county employees over allegations that employees experienced health problems caused by  toxins emanating from a county Social Services Agency building.

Details of the settlement terms remain secret pending court approval, according to a county news release.

The suit was filed in 2010 by nearly a dozen social service workers who allege their health problems are connected to working in the building located at 840 N. Eckhoff Street in Orange.

Several of the social workers filing suit against the county suffer from a host of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. One former employee has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer connected to industrial solvents such as the ones used in the building before it was occupied by the county.

In its news release, the county said it settled the suit “because of uncertainties with the outcome of a jury trial and the impact of a state law that allows any party found to be just 1 percent at fault to pay an entire economic damage award.”

The County began leasing and occupying the Eckhoff building in the late 1990s, after it had been used to produce oil drilling equipment.

The county ended up buying the building in 2009 after conducting environmental tests on the property that concluded it was safe for regular business operations. That same year, workers began complaining and several workers’ compensation cases were filed.

The county claims that testing in and around the Eckhoff building over the past five years have shown the building to be safe for employees and the public.

According to the county’s statement, the county will conduct air-quality assessments  at the Eckhoff building “as needed” and share the results with employees.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo. 

  • Debby Bodkin

    As a non-attorney, I would like to see the attorney fees paid to attorneys from both plaintiffs and defendants and whether any type of “referral” fees and/or quid pro payments exist.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Good question! Aha. Now this is making sense. Lawsuits from sick employees against the County would create a “gold mine” of billings to a well connected law firm.

      The County stretches these cases out for years and years – K-Ching!!

      This is another perfect scam. It’s seems to be the OC’s business model because I saw the exact same scenario played out in the buildings I worked in.

      The Elites profited Millions off of buying a toxic dump. They know employees will get sick and can forecast the amount of billings these cases will generates to the “outside” law firm.

      VofOC can you research the (contracts/invoices) and total amount of tax dollars funneled to the law firms to defend the county against the sick employees?

    • octaxpayer

      Don’t forget all the cost of county employees working on discovery items and other paper work.

      • OCservant_Leader

        I just checked – there are over 2,000 different actions for this case!

        The complaint is over 30 pages. I am very curious what the County paid to ruin these employees.

        Can a Good Samaritan please post the case online?

  • Jacki Livingston

    During my time at the County, I had totally unsafe work issues, like mentally unstable and violent people…and that was just the management and coworkers. The clients were bad, too, but not as bad as upper management. A lot of those people were cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Oh yea. Absolute insanity inside the County. Without HR to set ANY rules of qualifications or decorum they have created a very dangerous working environment.

      • Jacki Livingston

        HR? HR? People think HR is there for workers…ah, the fools! HR is there to protect the worst of the worst in management, when they are not serving them…personally…if you get my drift?

  • OCservant_Leader

    Employees Beware!

    You need to understand how the County operates. They will sacrifice the health of thousands – just for a few Elites to profit.

    The County knew this site was toxic and they altered reports, continuously lied to employees and absolutely destroyed those who fell ill.

    They did the exact same MO at the building I worked at. The smell was obvious but we were reassured with “County” inspection reports and PR spin that it wasn’t toxic. So many sick employees – my doctors were stumped with what could be causing my mysterious symptoms.

    The Elites spend very little time in these buildings (at work – period) and have special air returns in their offices.

    I had heard that several employees filed OSHA and workers compensation cases so I assumed the County would act and either clean up the toxic mess or move employees. Oh how wrong I was.

    Now I know even if they settle with the employees after years of terror, they do not have to protect other employees. They just continue the cover ups and pocket the profits.

    Nothing is more important than your health – no job is worth this!

    • John Claxton

      Yes they don’t care. Current employees will leave, new ones will start and then they will follow suite over and over. To make matters worse, like our friend Jackie points out, Spitzer’s wife has been strategically placed as a judge over OC workers comp cases.