Gopher Resource Lead Smelting Plant Lawsuits

For decades, workers at the Gopher Resource lead smelting plant in Tampa, Florida, were exposed to dangerous levels of lead dust in the air — which can increase the risk of heart problems and kidney damage. If you or your loved one work or worked at Gopher Resource and suffer lead exposure symptoms, you may be entitled to compensation through a Gopher Resource lawsuit.

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Breaking News: Gopher Resource Lead Poisoning Lawsuits

In June 2021, a lead exposure lawsuit was filed in Florida state court on behalf of a child whose father worked at the Gopher Resource Florida smelter from 2011 to 2017.

This Gopher Resource lead poisoning lawsuit claims the child:

  • Was exposed to lead as an infant because of his father’s work
  • Has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, autism, ADHD, asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, seizures, and other neurological disorders and developmental delays as a result of lead exposure

What Is Gopher Resource?

Founded in 1946, Minnesota-based Gopher Resource is an environmental solutions provider specializing in lead battery recycling. Gopher Resource employs approximately 600 people at recycling facilities in Eagan, Minnesota, and Tampa, Florida. Their clients have included the U.S. military, battery makers and ammunition suppliers.

An estimated 85% of lead in use today goes into batteries, mostly for cars. And when the batteries run down, 99% of this lead is recycled to make new batteries. Gopher Resource recycles lead-acid batteries.

Only 10 lead battery recycling factories remain in the United States, more than a third having gone out of business in the last decade. Gopher Resource owns two of these lead smelting companies.

Gopher Resource Tampa Lead Dust Exposure Investigation

Gopher Resource exposed workers to lead levels in the air that were hundreds of times higher than the federal limit, according to an 18-month investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and PBS Frontline.

This investigation also found that:

  • 8 out of 10 workers had enough lead in their blood to put them at risk of increased blood pressure, kidney dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease from 2014 to 2018
  • At least 14 current and former workers have had heart attacks or strokes, some after working in the most contaminated areas of the plant
  • Dust from the factory is suspected as a potential cause of lead exposure in at least 16 children of employees as a result of take-home exposure
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hasn’t inspected the factory for lead contamination since 2014 and missed critical problems at previous visits

What Did Gopher Resource Do About It?

Gopher Resource knew about the excessive lead dust in the Tampa factory — but they disabled ventilation features that captured fumes and moved slowly to fix faulty mechanical systems, according to the investigation. The respirators they provided were inadequate to protect against excessive air-lead concentration levels.

A company-contracted doctor failed to tell workers their blood lead levels put them in danger and cleared employees with health problems potentially tied to lead exposure.

The investigation also found that the company offered incentives to employees for keeping their blood lead levels low — rewarding employees with bonuses if they kept the amount down and punishing those who couldn’t. This led some workers to take measures to strip metals from their bodies, including undergoing dangerous medical procedures; some even donated contaminated blood.

The Dangers of Lead Exposure and Lead Dust Poisoning

Occupational exposure to lead occurs via inhalation and ingestion of lead-containing dust or contact with lead-contaminated surfaces. Lead passes through the lungs into the blood, where it can harm many of the body's organs.

A single exposure to low or moderate amounts of lead may not cause lasting damage, but chronic lead exposure can cause irreversible health effects.

If you or your loved one worked at Gopher Resource and suffered from symptoms of lead poisoning, you may be entitled to compensation from a lead exposure lawsuit. Get a free case review today to learn more about your potential legal options.

Lead Exposure Symptoms in Adults

Depending on the extent of exposure, symptoms of exposure to lead and long-term effects of lead poisoning in adults include:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive aging and dysfunction
  • Deficits in visual motor dexterity (using vision and movement together)
  • Delayed conception
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Kidney damage and dysfunction
  • Lower reaction times and attention deficit
  • Nervous system and neurobehavioral effects
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • Sleep disturbances

Take-Home Lead Exposure in Children

Sadly, workers exposed to lead dust can unknowingly bring the toxic material home with them on their clothes, which can expose their loved ones. Children under age six are at particular risk of developing cognitive health effects — even at very low blood lead levels.

“There is no safe level of lead exposure in children, with lasting decreases in cognition documented in children with blood levels as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood.”

– American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Documented health effects of lead exposure in children include:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Hearing and speech problems
  • Learning and behavior problems

Gopher Resource Lead Poisoning Lawsuit Settlements and Verdicts

Compensation from a Gopher Resource lead poisoning lawsuit can often come in two forms, depending on how the case progresses:

  • You may be able to receive a lead poisoning settlement if the defendant makes you a financial offer before the case proceeds to court. Lead poisoning lawsuit settlement amounts vary according to specific details of each case, like the severity of your exposure and the resulting injuries.
  • If your case doesn’t settle, your legal team may try the case in court before a judge and jury, who will render a lead poisoning verdict or compensation amount for your case.

Pursue Compensation With a Lead Poisoning Lawyer

If you or your loved one work or worked at a Gopher Resource Lead Smelting Plant and exhibit lead poisoning symptoms, you may be eligible for compensation — and Sokolove Law may be able to help.

As an established national law firm, Sokolove Law has helped thousands of clients across the country pursue compensation for their injuries. In fact, we’ve secured over $8.3 Billion on behalf of our clients over the last 40 years.

Get a free case review today to see if we may be able to help you too.

Gopher Resource Lawsuit FAQs

Can I sue my employer for lead exposure?

If you or your loved one worked at a lead smelting plant like Gopher Resource and are experiencing lead dust poisoning symptoms, you may be eligible for compensation with the help of a lead poisoning lawyer. Get a free case review today to learn more.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: July 9, 2021

View 5 Sources
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Lead Exposure in Children.” Retrieved from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/lead-exposure/Pages/Lead-Exposure-in-Children.aspx. Accessed on July 6, 2021.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Health Effects of Lead Exposure." Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/prevention/health-effects.htm. Accessed on July 6, 2021.
  3. Tampa Bay Times. "Poisoned." Retrieved from: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/workers-florida-lead-smelter-exposed-dangerous-levels-neurotoxin/. Accessed on July 6, 2021.
  4. United States Congressman Charlie Crist Press Releases. "CRIST, CASTOR CALL ON DOJ TO INVESTIGATE DANGEROUS WORKING CONDITIONS AT LOCAL LEAD PLANT." Retrieved from: https://crist.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2311. Accessed on July 5, 2021.
  5. United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Lead." Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/lead#:~:text=The%20lead%20standards%20establish%20a,lead%20testing%20for%20exposed%20workers. Accessed on July 6, 2021.