Federal judge rules against four Blackwell residents who wanted to be part of $119 million settlement


An Oklahoma City federal judge has ruled against four Blackwell residents who attempted to sue the Blackwell Zinc Smelter owner after the smelter company already settled a class-action pollution lawsuit years ago.

U.S. District Judge Charles b. Goodwin essentially ruled that the individuals were too late in their claims. He ruled against Bradley Snow and Keyra Soto who bought property involved in the suit around the time it was settled in 2012. A reported  4,000 property owners received payments as part of the settlement.

The judge determined they are bound by the $119 million settlement of the original 2008 lawsuit filed in Kay County District Court against Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold, Inc.

“Mr. Snow and Ms. Soto, as successive owners of the respective properties, are likewise bound by the Coffey Judgment,” wrote Judge Goodwin in his ruling. The two had contended they never received individual notice of the lawsuit.

The Judge also ruled against Sergio and Teresa Arteaga who attempted at one point in the original lawsuit to opt out of the settlement. However, Judge Goodwin determined they “subsequently submitted a claim form, which was treated as a request to rejoin the Settlement Class under the Last Submission of Intent Rule.”

The Blackwell Zinc. Co. operated the plant until it was closed in 1974. The city of Blackwell filed suit to force the Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Cooper and Gold company to clean up the site. In February of 2010 the city accepted a $54 million settlement from the company.

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