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Cook, et al. v. Rockwell International Corp. and The Dow Chemical Co.

Case No. 90-cv-00181-JLK, US District Court for the District of Colorado

A $375 million settlement was approved in a lawsuit against the former operators of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. The lawsuit alleged that Dow and Rockwell, the two companies that operated Rocky Flats from 1952 through 1989, released radioactive hazardous substances into the surrounding area. Filed in 1990, the lawsuit further alleges that Defendants caused the properties owned by class members in the property class area to be contaminated with plutonium, a hazardous radioactive substance, which caused the properties’ values to be less than they otherwise would have been, and which substantially interfered with class members’ use and enjoyment of their property. Only people or entities who owned property in the property class area on June 7, 1989, or heirs or successors to people or entities who owned such property are class members. Settlement distribution did not begin until 2016.  

Heffler’s Role

Heffler’s duties as Settlement Administrator included notification, skip tracing for unlocated class members, claims filing assistance through a toll-free number, mail and internet correspondence, and claims review and analysis. Our analysis included consultation with all counsel and the class’ property experts. Our expert legal notice plan included a comprehensive national publication program via print, television, radio, and internet banner advertisements.  

The size of the class and the level of verification necessary to correctly validate claims meant a massive undertaking of data organization. Not only were property owners verified, but also heirs and successors to the land within the property class area. 

The Result

Heffler Claims Group put forth a comprehensive notice program that included 28,179 direct mail notices, an extensive publication notice plan across multiple media channels and a detailed and user-friendly settlement website. 

Heffler’s notice plan in this case reached an estimated 96 percent of Denver area residents and 84 percent of the target audience nationwide. In addition to the first notice plan, Heffler mailed 25,272 notices with a reminder of the claim filing deadline. 

By October 2018, Heffler distributed $107,569,323 to 8,460 claimants. We identified 40 claims which were verified but submitted without sufficient documentation and claims which were submitted but had verified changes attached and would need supplemental checks. Heffler executed a second distribution for those identified claimants, and fully satisfied distribution as of November 9, 2018. 

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