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Lawyers Ask Court to Toss $358 Million Judgment

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Attorneys for the former owners of the Doe Run Lead Smelter in Herculaneum, Mo. have asked a state appeals court to throw out a $358 million judgment against their clients.

The judgment came from a lawsuit in which several Herculaneum residents claimed that they were exposed to excessive amounts of lead due to the defendants' negligence. The plaintiffs said they suffered lost IQ points and other health issues from the exposure.

In July 2011, a St. Louis jury ordered the former owners - Texas-based Fluor Corp., Virginia-based A.T. Massey Coal and Missouri-based Doe Run Investment Holdings Co. - to pay $358 million to 16 plaintiffs who claimed to have suffered from lead poisoning. The trial lasted three months and focused on the plant's operations from 1986 to 1994.

Thomas Weaver, who represents the plant's former owners, argued that jurors received improper instructions and head expert testimony that was flawed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Weaver argued that if the award is not tossed out, than a new trial should be ordered.

Gerson Smoger, a Dallas attorney who represented the plaintiffs with St. Louis attorney Mark Bronson, defended the judgment, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The smelter's current owner, The Doe Run Co., said it plans to shut down the lead smelter sometime this year. It is the lone remaining lead smelter in the United States.

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