Originally created 06/26/04

Lawsuit wants cheap settlements tossed



CONYERS, Ga. - Settlements between victims of a chemical fire and Biolab Inc. should be thrown out, a lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit filed in Fulton County court alleges BioLab "deceived, coerced and misled" victims of the fire into settling claims for inadequate amounts.

The May 25 fire sent about 75 patients to emergency rooms for smoke-related ailments and injuries, and thousands more were evacuated from the area around the BioLab warehouse after chlorine-tinged smoke tainted the sky.

BioLab is a manufacturer of pool and spa products.

The lawsuit cites one plaintiff, a 73-year-old woman, who reportedly settled all her claims against the company for $50.

It also references an 18-year-old who received $75 for providing BioLab with the names of individuals who were evacuated but was unaware the money was to be used for the settlement of all his medical claims related to the fire.

"Frankly, we don't know what the long-term effects of this fire will be, so people do not need to be pressured into making a quick decision regarding a settlement of their claim," attorney Joe Conoscienti said.

A similar lawsuit was rejected in Rockdale County, but this one was filed in Fulton County Superior Court because Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., the firm that handled claims resulting from the fire, is based in Fulton County.

Nine individuals or businesses are named as plaintiffs, but attorneys are asking for class-action status.

The suit said BioLab resorted to "fraud, deceit and misrepresentation" and "trolled gymnasiums and other shelters" to find victims and pressure them into settling their claims.

Officials for Lawrenceville-based BioLab did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment from The Associated Press on Friday.