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Class action suit filed against Graphic Packaging International in Kalamazoo

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (From news reports) -- A class action lawsuit has been announced that names Gov. Whitmer, the City of Kalamazoo, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among others. It centers on pollution and health concerns stemming from Graphic Packaging International (GPI).

The company has been under investigation by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) following waves of complaints from neighboring residents over the odors emitted by the facility.

MDHHS testing revealed hydrogen sulfide and other VOCs as the cause of the odors, which can lead to nasal irritation and temporary headaches.

According to documents obtained by FOX 17, the plaintiffs in this care are residents of the Northside neighborhood of Kalamazoo. This complaint is brought on behalf of roughly 8,000 people, all of whom allegedly "suffered injuries" as a result of pollution around and caused by GPI.

This civil action is asserting claims under the Constitution and federal law -- even alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution, the federal Clean Air Act, and Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The Plaintiffs assert they are "suffering from intentional discrimination acted out in a conspiracy to violate their civil rights, causing them to suffer wrongful deaths, irreparable bodily harm."

They are requesting a jury trial as well as the following:

  • An Order declaring the conduct of Defendants unconstitutional,
  • An Order awarding exemplary and hedonic damages of $100,000,000.00;
  • An Order awarding compensatory, economic, and non-economic damages $500,000,000.00;
  • An Order awarding actual and reasonable attorney fees and litigation expenses of $800,000;
  • An Order granting injunctive relief, mandating the closure of GPI's 1500 N. Pitcher St. Plant and or requiring production decreases to levels guaranteed to ensure the public's health.
  • An Order for all such other relief as the court deems equitable and reasonable.

GPI and EGLE entered a consent agreement in February, which entailed $109,270 in fines and an order to follow a compliance plan.
GPI says it expects to finish installing equipment to reduce odors by the end of the year.

GPI also plans to combat hydrogen sulfide emissions by adding a wet scrubber system to its wastewater treatment plant. GPI is also looking at the possibility of redirecting some of its water discharge away from an area deemed to be an odor source.

Graphic Packaging provided a statement about the lawsuit.

We are currently reviewing the lawsuit and we will not comment on pending litigation outside of court. As a general matter, we will defend ourselves against any false and misleading claims. We are proud of our work and our record in Kalamazoo and take very seriously our responsibility as a good neighbor, community partner and employer to 750 people at our Kalamazoo mill.

We have invested millions of dollars in facility improvements and monitoring to address environmental concerns, and we will continue to build on those enhancements alongside city leaders and state and federal regulators to promote the health and well-being of our neighbors in Kalamazoo. For more information about our ongoing efforts, please visit

For a detailed look at GPI's Odor Action Plan, visit the company's website.

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