Justice for Old Smokey Blog Post Graphic on What City of Miami's Denial Means for Coconut Grove Lawsuit

Justice for Old Smokey: What the Denial of Miami's Appeal Means for Victims

Discover the pivotal moment in the fight for justice against the City of Miami’s negligence in the case of Old Smokey’s toxic legacy. The Third District Court of Appeal’s denial of the city’s appeal on medical monitoring signals a significant shift, allowing impacted residents to seek accountability and compensation.

The Third District Court of Appeal’s recent denial of the City of Miami’s appeal on medical monitoring marks a crucial turning point in the pursuit of justice and restitution. For decades, the specter of this municipal trash incinerator has loomed over the West Coconut Grove community, casting a shadow of health risks and environmental injustice. Now, with the Third DCA’s denial of the City of Miami’s appeal and the Third DCA’s denial of the City’s motion for a written opinion, the path forward is clearer than ever for past and former residents seeking accountability and compensation. With the denial of the City of Miami’s Motion for Written Opinion, the case shall go forward and the nearly 16-month long stay will be lifted.

Let’s explore what the Third DCA’s denial of the City’s appeal on medical monitoring signifies and what it means for those impacted by the toxic legacy of Old Smokey:

The Backstory: Old Smokey’s Legacy of Harm

In the heart of Coconut Grove, Florida lies an historic neighborhood who has yet to find justice. “Old Smokey”, a seemingly innocuous name for a facility with sinister repercussions, operated for nearly five decades from the 1920s to 1970s, spewing toxic ash laden with chemicals on to playgrounds and schools, and across the West Coconut Grove neighborhood, as well as parts of neighboring Coral Gables. When Old Smokey’ belched out clouds of ash laden with harmful chemicals such as dioxins and arsenic, those toxins did not simply disappear. Rather, they covered the community, contaminating the soil, where they remain until removed, The impact was not only immediate but enduring, as the fallout contaminated parks and homes exposing unknowing generations of residents.

City of Miami’s Appeal: A Last-Ditch Effort Thwarted

In 2017, affected residents filed a class action in Miami-Dade Circuit Court requesting, among other things, medical monitoring. A claim for medical monitoring would set up a fund that allows exposed individuals, including those who are not yet sick, to seek periodic medical consultations to monitor for any health conditions associated with exposure to toxic ash. The City of Miami argued that it is protected by sovereign immunity, so the residents could not sue the City for this type of claim. The trial court judge rejected this argument, and the Third DCA has now affirmed that ruling. 

Additionally, the Third DCA’s recent denial of the City of Miami’s Motion for Written Opinion has been denied, effectively closing the door on any further appeals to the Florida Supreme Court on this issue. This opens the door for claimants to continue to pursue justice on a broader scale and to hold accountable those responsible for the environmental injustices perpetrated by Old Smokey.

Implications for Claimants: A Ray of Hope

“While the largely self-absorbed and scandal-ravaged Miami City Commission ponders new ways to hold itself together and approve ungodly development, the Coconut Grove and Gables residents continue to be exposed to unhealthy levels of toxicants (dioxin and others) that the City has known about for decades, yet has chosen to do nothing, further exposing residents to additional damages and further loss of tax payer dollars,” says Craig T. Downs, Founding and Principal Attorney of The Downs Law Group. “The commission should take a proactive leadership role to attempt to mitigate it’s damages from the City’s actions (and inactions).”

As claimants prepare to embark on this next phase of the legal battle, it’s important to reflect on the significance of their collective struggle. Theirs is a fight not just for compensation for the harms they suffer, but for recognition and accountability from the City of Miami, and for protection of future generations from the ravages of this decades-long environmental harm. With this legal hurdle now behind them, claimants can focus on the next steps in the case and the pursuit of fair restitution for their suffering.

A Call to Action: Stand Up for Your Rights

To all those who have suffered at the hands of the City of Miami’s negligence in permitting Old Smokey to poison residents for decades, now is the time to assert your rights and demand accountability. The legal system has spoken, affirming your right to pursue your claims.

Together, we can chart a course towards a brighter, healthier future for West Coconut Grove and beyond. Contact us today for a free case review (305) 444-8226Top of Form.