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John W. Pinkerton


On a daily basis, I see advertisements on TV soliciting complainants against various companies.  Now I’m not saying that none of these lawsuits are justified.  Sometimes, folks, including businesses, do bad things that harm innocent folks.  Sad but true.

However, when watching these commercials, I’ve begun to have some sympathy for some of these companies.

Too often law firms, once they get the smell of blood in their nostrils, want their full pound of flesh.  They even go national to solicit complainants.

I strongly suspect those signing on to these suits seldom see very much real money coming their way.  The law firms end up with the bulk of whatever is gained.

I suspect the reason I am a little doubtful about the value of some of these suits is a local incident.

A Chicago law firm smelled a payday in the Railroad (Santa fe) and the current owners (Copperas) of the railroad tie plant in Somerville.

Somerville was founded by the Santa fe Railroad Company.  The owner, Mr. Somerville, found a nice flat piece of land just north of the Yegua Creek to build a tie plant, round house, switching yard, and as a bonus, a Harvey House was added.  Folks came from all over the country to work in Somerville.  For many years it was the primary employer of the local folks and still employs a handful.

Is it possible that a hundred year old railroad tie plant could cause cancer? You bet.  The safety of the plant improved through the years as did most things in American life.

However, the Chicago law firm wasn’t interested in history, or for that matter, justice---only money.  They spread $20 bills around to sign up as many complainants as possible.  They pictured folks with horrible disfiguring cancers on the internet---folks I’ve never heard of or seen and this is a small community.

The law firm brought several cases but each failed to bring them the payday they wanted.  In the meantime, Somerville was getting the reputation as the cancer center of Texas.  Unfortunate.

I suspect I know the local fellow who initiated these suits.  It doesn’t matter what his name is.  I knew him.  He was always trying to work an angle.  He did have cancer, and, as a matter of fact, he died from it.  He lost his lawsuit.

There were a number of cases, but my favorites were the following: one woman whose husband developed cancer which he and she attributed to the tie plant, sued on the basis of deprivation of sex.  Oh, boy.  Another woman claimed that she developed cancer because she washed the clothes that her husband wore while working at the tie plant.  Wow.

After losing several cases, the Chicago bunch limped back to Chicago with empty pockets.

Knowing what I know about human nature, I’m a little less prone to assume a company is guilty of sins against humanity just because someone files or wins a lawsuit.