Targeted Historical Research Facilitated a $1 Million Favorable Settlement
A major chemical manufacturer had been the “contractor-operator” for a set of government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) plants in St. Louis during World War II. At the time, this manufacturer made chemically resistant powders and protective ointments for the U.S. military’s Chemical Warfare Service. Now they needed to determine who should bear the costs of environmental cleanup.
Their attorneys at Husch Blackwell needed to document the manufacturer’s WWII practices in order to determine a fair assessment of their share of the costs. They turned to History Associates to secure comprehensive documentation of the extent of U.S. government involvement at the plants. The historical research team at History Associates has a track record of success in uncovering the evidence that can lead to a favorable settlement in these types of cases.
Our historians first used histories and technical studies to become familiar with the key context-the types of products and processes used at the plants-and then located plant contracts, inspection reports, drawings, and operational correspondence in World War II-era collections held by the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC, and in Kansas City, Missouri. The collections tapped by our researchers included files of the Chemical Warfare Service and War Department but also holdings of government-wide surplus property disposal agencies like the War Assets Administration and General Services Administration.
History Associates then crafted a targeted Freedom of Information Act request to the Army, which yielded still more dispositive documents including production summaries, operating statistics, and official histories. The compiled documentation showed that the plants were owned by the U.S. government, designed to conform to government-approved blueprints which included plans for sewerage and incineration systems, and commanded by Army majors and a lieutenant colonel who worked with company staff to ensure that production goals were met through assembly line increases and plant expansions.
We provided the documentation to our clients with a report summarizing our methodology and concisely describing the most significant findings. Attorneys for the chemical manufacturer and for the government utilized this information during settlement discussions to determine the equitable allocation of costs incurred for cleanup at the site.
“The work done by History Associates on this matter was invaluable to our case against the government. We would have had a much more difficult, if not impossible, time proving our case, but for the documents and information provided to us by the experienced folks at History Associates,” said Linda Tape, one of the attorneys in the matter at Husch Blackwell, adding that the work done by History Associates contributed significantly to a $1 million settlement for the chemical manufacturer.
To confidentially discuss how historical research could help your case, call us at (301) 279-9697 or contact History Associates.