Residents Win Appeal Of Judgment For Refinery

     CHICAGO (CN) – A Chicago appeals court ruled 2-1 that the trial court had no authority to vacate a $120 million award and decertify a class of residents who sued over the fumes and pollution allegedly caused by an oil refinery in Blue Island, Ill.

     Judge Gordon said the trial judge had improperly vacated the jury’s decision to award plaintiffs $80 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages on their class-action nuisance claims against Clark Refining and Marketing, which operated the refinery from 1993 to 2001.
     Judge Cheryl Starks of the trial court had vacated the award and decertified the class, explaining that she was “granting a new trial because, again, the issue of these people’s claims are still active and still live based on the law.”
     But the appeals court overturned Starks’ decision, saying she “had no authority to decertify … To hold otherwise would require us to ignore both supreme court precedent and a statute, which obviously we cannot do.”

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