A group of 56 Goshen, Indiana, residents have filed a lawsuit against Johnson Controls alleging the demolition of its facility in the town exposed them and their properties to cancer-causing asbestos, and that tons of asbestos-contaminated debris was illegally buried in a farm just east of town.
The lawsuit was filed last month in Elkhart County Circuit Court in Indiana, and names Johnson Controls Inc., (JCI) and TOCON Holdins LLC., which bought the building from Johnson Controls in 2007. First Federal Savings Bank (FFSB) of Huntington is also named as a defendant in the case because it holds the mortgage on the property.
Johnson Controls is listed as a responsible party because the company retained access to the building after the sale. The company is also named in another lawsuit by local residents over alleged chemical contamination of groundwater at the plant.
Tony Adkins, owner of TOCON, is accused of conspiring with contractor Richard Swift – a convicted habitual offender who spent 18 years in prison – to demolish the building without the proper inspections required by law.
The lawsuit states that Goshen City Schools (GCS) was interested in acquiring the property for a softball field, but before the board purchased the property, it sought bids to demolish the building and clear the debris. Those bids – which ranged from $800,000 to $1.5 million – turned out to be more than the property was worth.
“Therefore, Adkins enlisted the help of Swift, who agreed to tear down the buildings for free as long as he could salvage and sell the scrap,” the lawsuit states. “JCI, TOCON, and FFSB knew that significant quantities of asbestos remained in the buildings at the site when Swift tore them down. However, through their actions and inactions, they conspired to have him illegally demolish the buildings and remove the debris to further their plan that CGS would purchase the property.”
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in construction materials prior to the 1980s. Demolition of structures containing asbestos can cause the microscopic fibers of asbestos to go airborne, which poses health risks to those in close proximity. Asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that can take decades to develop.
Source: Goshen News