Developer responds to Lakeland contamination lawsuit

Concerned resident Marsha Sherouse looks at the lawsuit.

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Developer Drummond Company, Inc. has sent a letter to residents responding to a federal lawsuit alleging contamination in the Oakbridge and Grasslands communities.

The letter is meant to reassure homeowners and send a message, that Drummond Company strongly disagrees with the accusations made in the lawsuit.

The two upscale subdivisions in Lakeland are named in a Federal lawsuit that claims developers in Polk County failed to notify thousands of new homeowners that they are living on contaminated land.

“You may have been troubled recently to see news of a class action lawsuit filed against the Drummond Company,” Drummond Company, Inc. Vice President Leonard Mass wrote.

“This lawsuit makes many allegations that we strongly disagree with regarding the Grasslands and Oakbridge communities.We understand that you may have concerns about these allegations, and your concerns deserve our full attention. You should also know that we will vigorously contest this lawsuit and mount an aggressive defense of Drummond and your real estate investment in these communities.”

Mass went on to write, “In Developing Grasslands and Oakbridge, we went through a state-regulated process to reclaim previously mined land and make it ready for residential use.”

Homeowner Marsha Sherouse tells News Channel 8 the letter doesn’t ease her mind. “This is just a letter. I still do not believe that we are out of danger,” she said.

Sherouse has lived in her home in the Oakbridge subdivision for ten years. She claims she was never notified when purchasing the home that radiation levels may be high. “I was never told. I have a great deal of respect for radiation, whether it’s being used for cancer, or whether it’s under my house. It’s frightening.”

Complaint

The lawsuit claims that the developer of the property, the Drummond Company, knew about high radiation levels as early as 1978.

The area used to be known as the Poseidon mine.  It was purchased by the Drummond company in 1978.  In 1982, Drummond ceased mining operations and began to reclaim the area and develop 1,400 acres.

The document, filed last week in Tampa, states more than 40,000 homes sit on reclaimed phosphate mining land in Polk County.

Exposure to levels of radiation similar to that identified in the Oakbridge development translates to residents receiving over one chest x-ray per week.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for loss of property value, for clean-up and to initiate medical monitoring for residents.

Tonight at 6, we’ll hear what residents have to say about the letter.

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