Senators Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara on Wednesday called for the District of Delaware U.S. Bankruptcy Court to exempt personal injury claims by local residents from the bankruptcy proceedings of Exide Technologies, a lead battery recycling plant in the City of Vernon.
Residents of Vernon and surrounding communities have been notified by the court that they have until Oct. 31 to submit proof if they want to file a claim for damages against Exide, according to a statement from De Leon’s office.
A meeting will be held in Boyle Heights on Monday to help residents fill out claim forms.
But according to De Leon and Lara, potential health victims of Exide’s harmful emissions are not like other possible claimants.
“On behalf of hundreds of thousands of constituents that may have been harmed by illegal toxic emissions by Exide Technologies, we respectfully request that the Court explicitly exempt personal injury claims from the General Bar Date in the Exide reorganization proceedings,” state De León and Lara in their letter to Judge Kevin J. Carey.
“Personal injury claims of this sort are not only complicated, but difficult to research, evaluate and document. That work cannot be accomplished in a matter of a few weeks, or even months. Our constituents have been subject to Exide’s pollution for decades, and because the nature of their potential claims doesn’t involve immediately obvious physical or economic harm, they deserve more time to be evaluated for injury,” their letter states.
De León asks that if an exemption is not possible, the Court should extend the filing date for residents for at least another six months to “give them a realistic opportunity” to prepare their claims.
Residents who have received a claim form regarding Exide’s bankruptcy may be interested in attending the next Resurrection Church Neighborhood Watch meeting in Boyle Heights, where the discussion will focus on how to file a claim.
According to Neighborhood Watch member Teresa Marquez, the Monday Oct. 21 meeting will focus on the imminent filing deadline for seeking damages from the international corporation, which has been under scrutiny for emitting cancer-causing toxins into the local environment.
In an email to EGP, Marquez said it is their understanding that any resident who fails to file the proof needed to file a claim by the court’s deadline will lose their right to go after Exide [later] “for possible wrongdoings due to the toxic pollution [they’ve] released in the area for years.”
Residents are highly encouraged to seek legal advice from an attorney.
The meeting to discuss filing claims will take place at 6pm at Resurrection Church, in the auditorium, at 3324 Opal St, Los Angeles, CA 90023.