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Freeman v. Blue Ridge Paper Prods., Inc.

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20027
Nos. No. E2006-00293, (Tenn. Ct. App., 01/25/2007)

An appellate court upheld a $2 million jury verdict against a pulp and paper mill for the impact its discharges into Pigeon River, North Carolina, had on property owners. The lower court did not err in certifying the lawsuit as a class action. Common issues of law and fact predominate, and the unique factual setting of the case makes a class action the superior method of adjudicating the controversy. Nor did the court err in submitting the question of damages to the jury on a classwide basis. The court also rejected the mill's claims that the lower court erred in admitting certain expert testimony and in allowing the jury to consider "fear of chemicals" in its determination of damages. Lastly, the property owners' counsel did not make improper closing arguments such that a new trial is warranted.