An attorney who worked for many of the people who claimed harm because of contamination at the IBM Endicott manufacturing site said the legal case could have dragged on for another two decades.

Stephen Schwarz
Stephen Schwarz

Stephen Schwarz of the Faraci Lange law firm in Rochester said all lawsuits involving allegations of vapor intrusion are difficult. He said the situation involving the chemical TCE at the IBM complex made for a "very complicated case."

Schwarz said although most checks now have been distributed from a qualified settlement fund that was established following the agreement reached with IBM.

Hundreds of people recently received their payments. Schwarz said a few involving "very specific circumstances" have been delayed. In some cases in which Medicare liens are involved, payment details still must be worked out with the government.

Schwarz worked for several years with attorneys from other law firms on the cases involving the old IBM Endicott property. He said the attorneys are "proud of our effort." He said "we felt like we did the best that anybody could."

Schwarz said people who bring similar vapor intrusion lawsuits need to know that it will be a long process. In the protracted Endicott case, he said "a number of people" who had been involved in the lawsuit died before the settlement was reached.

The attorney said state Supreme Court Justice Ferris Lebous "deserves a lot of credit" for encouraging the parties to reach a settlement.

Schwarz noted that while plaintiffs are required to keep settlement amounts confidential, they are not prevented from publicly discussing factual issues or concerns involving their cases. He said there is "no gag order as such" that would preclude those who agreed to the settlement with IBM from talking about matters involving the contamination.

Schwarz said he expects to spend another few months working to wrap up his work on the IBM Endicott cases.

IBM sold its microelectronics unit in 2002 to a newly-created entity called Endicott Interconnect Technologies. IBM's buildings and properties that had been part of the North Street complex now are owned by Huron Real Estate Associates.

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