Lawsuit to proceed against U.S. Steel as class action suit

The lawsuit will proceed as a class action against United States Steel Corp. stemming from the December 2018 fire at the Clairton Coke Works.

Lawsuit to proceed against U.S. Steel as class action suit

Allegheny County Judge has approved the class action lawsuit against United States Steel Corp. arising from the fire that occurred at the Clairton Coke Works in December 2018.

U.S. Steel vs. Hernandez was heard Friday at Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The order gives six Mon Valley residents, who claim that they and 123,000 other people in 22 communities have been impacted by the Clairton Plant which continued to operate despite the damage caused by the fire in pollution control equipment. The plaintiffs can seek damages in a single lawsuit.

Sarah Siskind, a Chicago-based civil and environmental rights lawyer and the lead plaintiff's attorney at Miner, Barnhill & Galland PC, said: "Now, we can go forward and hold U.S. Steel responsible to its Mon Valley neighboring communities."

The lawsuit claims that sulfurous emissions were produced by the plant when it was operating without pollution controls from Christmas Eve 2018, onwards. Allegheny County Health Department issued warnings about the emissions. A 2021 University of Pittsburgh study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported an amount of sulfur dioxide 25 times higher than the levels recorded for the six-week period that ended April 4, 2019.

Brandy Byrwa Hill, the lead author, said in April 2021 that 'we verified that people who lived within a 10 mile radius of the cokeworks had higher rates for asthma exacerbations, and used more albuterol to treat asthma than people outside of that radius. We also learned that almost half of those with asthma living closest to the fire did not know about the pollution problem, and were therefore unable to prevent exposure.

U.S. Steel stated that it was reviewing the opinions and would not comment on any pending litigation.

U.S. Steel stated that "Environmental Stewardship is an important value to us, and we are committed to the safety and well-being of our employees as well as the communities in which we live and work."

According to court records, the plaintiffs are Linda Hernandez Reita Derrick Lisa Harrier Anna Heinze Jacquelyn Schmid and Linda Supernovich. According to court records, the class communities include Braddock and Clairton. Also included are Dravosburg in East McKeesport Township, East Pittsburgh Borough, Elizabeth Township. Forward, Glassport Jefferson Hills Liberty, Lincoln, McKeesport North Braddock North Versailles Pleasant Hills Port Vue Versailles Wall West Elizabeth West Mifflin.

Miner, Barnhill & Galland and Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec LLC, both of Pittsburgh, plan to meet Mon Valley residents in order to answer their questions and discuss class action certification.