Judge Grants Motion for Leave To Seek Punitive Damages in Chemtool Fire Class Action Litigation

Sep 19, 2023

On August 14, 2023, the Honorable Stephen E. Balogh, associate judge of the Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit Court, granted class plaintiffs’ motion for leave to seek punitive damages against defendant Chemtool Incorporated in Grasley, et al. v. Chemtool Incorporated.

The plaintiffs have alleged that Chemtool engaged in willful and wanton conduct in connection with a fire and series of explosions that occurred at Chemtool’s grease and lubricant manufacturing facility in Rockton, Illinois, on June 14, 2021. The court found plaintiffs’ allegations that Chemtool operated the facility without an operable fire suppression system and “knew and disregarded the risk and foreseeability of a fire as well as the substantial likelihood of injury to both property and people” to be well-pleaded. The court further found that many of the class plaintiffs’ allegations “are supported by evidence already obtained through discovery and which will likely be admissible at trial” in concluding that the class plaintiffs had demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial sufficient to support an award of punitive damages for their claim.

A copy of the court’s order can be accessed here.

The class plaintiffs are represented by DiCello Levitt’s Daniel Rock Flynn, together with co-lead counsel Robert Libman of Miner, Barnhill & Galland and Robert M. Foote of Foote, Mielke, Chaves & O’Neil, LLC, along with the plaintiffs’ executive committee members Edward J. Manzke of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.; Steven A. Hart of Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge; David Neiman of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC; and Deanna Pihos of Miner, Barnhill & Galland; and class liaison counsel Marc C. Gravino of WilliamsMcCarthy LLP.

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