Lawsuit against Rockton's Chemtool for damage after explosion approved as class action

The burnt remains of the Chemtool plant as seen from railroad tracks Sunday, June 5, 2022, near homes on Watts Avenue in Rockton.
The burnt remains of the Chemtool plant as seen from railroad tracks Sunday, June 5, 2022, near homes on Watts Avenue in Rockton.

Any owner or tenant of properties located within a three-mile radius of the Chemtool plant on June 14, 2021, are now part of a class action suit.

Notices of the legal action are being mailed this week to addresses within the three-mile radius, and the notice will appear Friday in the Rockford Register Star, said Ed Manzke, of the Naperville-based Collins Law Firm and one of seven attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

"The people who are in the class don't need to do anything, but people who do not want to be party to the suit can opt out," he said.

More:Massive chemical fire at Chemtool in Rockton could burn for days

The Chemtool plant, a manufacturer of grease, lubricating oils and other fluids, caught fire on the morning of June 14, 2021, triggering several explosions on the grounds of the facility and burned for several days.

Residents who lived within a mile of the plant were forced to evacuate their homes for four days while those outside of the immediate vicinity but within the three-mile radius were asked to shelter in place, not to open windows nor turn on their air-conditioning units.

According to the notice, plaintiffs Charles Grasley, Diane Connelly, Paige Hoops, and Eric Osberg, are now suing on behalf of the class. They allege that their properties were impacted by a plume of smoke and dust from the fire that destroyed the Rockton plant at 1165 Prairie Hill Road.

The plaintiffs, the notice said, are seeking to "recover compensatory damages based on allegations of lost property values, loss of the reasonable use and enjoyment of their properties, and other property related damages. Plaintiffs are also seeking injunctive relief to remediate the alleged damage to properties in the Class Area."

The notice also said this case only seeks to determine claims for property damages and injunctive relief. "Personal injury claims (i.e., bodily injury, sickness, or disease related to exposure to the alleged contamination) are not being determined in this case and any such claims will not impact your status as a class member."

Meanwhile, Chemtool has denied any wrong doing and filed a complaint against Holian Insulation Company alleging that it was the actions of a Holian employee that caused the fire.

In response, Holian has filed a complaint alleging among other things that Chemtool failed to protect the Rockton plant from fires.

The Court has not yet made any determinations about the merits of plaintiffs’ claims or any party’s defenses.

For more information, visit: or call 833-457-5350.

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Lawsuit against Rockton's Chemtool approved for class action