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Whirlpool cancer lawsuit in Clyde area withdrawn

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CLYDE — Several Clyde-area residents who blamed a documented rise in eastern Sandusky County childhood cancer cases on contamination from Whirlpool Corp., have voluntarily withdrawn lawsuits they had filed against the company in U.S. District Court, according to a court record posted online late Tuesday.

Whirlpool, which has maintained its innocence, said in a prepared statement that it “welcomes dismissal of this lawsuit and is respectful of the families involved.”

“We empathize with community members — our neighbors, friends, and co-workers — who have suffered illnesses or deaths of their loved ones. Whirlpool has been a part of the fabric of the Clyde community for more than 60 years, and we continue our commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen,” Whirlpool said.

It was unclear Tuesday how many plaintiffs had dropped their cases.

Several people affiliated with the cases could not be reached, including the lead plaintiffs in the case, Sandusky County Administrator Warren Brown and his wife, Wendy Brown, who lost their daughter, Alexa Brown, to cancer several years ago.

One of the plaintiff attorneys, Chuck Boyk, of Toledo, said the dismissal leaves open the possibility of a refiling within one year.

He said the plaintiffs received no monetary award from Whirlpool, and declined to say if a refiling is anticipated.

“Our official position is I would like to explain from a tactical perspective why it’s being dismissed, but I have an obligation to my client[s] not to say anything at this time,” Mr. Boyk said.

The cases stem from a childhood cancer cluster identified in the Clyde area by the Ohio Department of Health several years ago. Officials from that agency and others said it was unlikely a statistical fluke, and that it appeared the cancers were caused by an unknown environmental trigger that may have simply passed through the region. The cause remains a mystery.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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