MUSCATINE — Court documents filed Friday detail how money from the $45 million settlement fund from the Grain Processing Corp. class action lawsuit will be distributed and what claim forms look like.
The document also included a plain-language notice that will go to class members and a request for the court to set a date for a fairness hearing.
Plaintiffs previously asked for an order granting preliminary approval of the settlement that would provide a total $50 million settlement. In addition to the settlement fund, GPC would pay another $6.5 million in pollution controls at the plant.
Pending preliminary approval of the agreement, claims notices will be distributed to class members. There are more than 2,000 households in the affected area surrounding GPC in the Southend.
A deadline for class members to object also is included for preliminary approval.
“Toxic air has blanketed Muscatine for decades,” resident and class member Jessica Brackett said. “Harm caused by GPC far surpasses $51 million. I live on the edge of the class boundary and still have to close my windows numerous times a week in attempts to keep the smell of pollution out.”
Brackett and 10,000 to 16,000 other residents who lived in the 1.5 mile radius of the plant between April 24, 2007 and Sept. 1, 2017 may file claims to receive a portion of the settlement fund, settlement documents read.
According to the settlement, every person living in those homes during that time — adults and children — are considered class members unless they opted out of the class action or were only guests in the affected residences.
The time frame for filing claims is proposed to be 120 days and will begin 28 days after preliminary approval is granted. Notification of the claims process will go out 35 days following a mailing of the notice. The documents also advise claimants not wait until the last minute to file.
The fairness hearing will determine if the settlement is "fair, adequate and reasonable," according to the settlement documents. If the court determines those criteria were not met, the settlement will be void and the class will prepare for trial, the documents read.
The class action began in 2012 by residents citing "smoke, odor and haze" coming from GPC as a nuisance.