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W. Chicago homeowners sue seller, real estate agent over thorium
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff

West Chicago resident Sandy Riess is suing the sellers of her house and their real estate company, alleging they failed to notify her that the property was contaminated with radioactive thorium, which she blames for the deaths of three dogs.

 

Ed Lee | 2007

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Published: 8/25/2008 1:51 PM

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Owners of a West Chicago house are suing their sellers, a real estate agent and her company, alleging they failed to disclose that the home was contaminated with radioactive thorium.

The 13-count lawsuit alleges fraud, misrepresentation, negligence and claims the property at 233 W. Stimmel St. is responsible for the deaths of three family dogs and the lingering respiratory illness to one of the owners.

The suit was filed by Sandy and Rich Riess and Sandy Riess' mother, Jeanette Duda. They are seeking more than $50,000 in restitution on each count. Rich Riess, the suit claims, has had numerous respiratory infections, chest pains and has a growth on his kidney that is being "watched."

At the heart of the suit is a portion of the sale contract that states the seller had no knowledge of "any hazardous waste on the real estate."

Sandy Riess said the sellers never disclosed that the property had undergone some thorium remediation, that it was located on a federal Superfund site or that the previous owners refused to have the land tested for radiation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The house was sold to Sandy Riess and her mother in 2004 by the children of the previous owners. The three siblings had grown up in that house, the suit contends, and would have knowledge that the property was likely contaminated.

The property is located near a shuttered plant that created thorium as a byproduct of its gas lamp manufacturing operation that began in the 1930s. The radioactive material was used as landscape filler for decades, and the health dangers were unknown at the time.

Attempts to reach the three siblings were unsuccessful. Their real estate agent, Mary Helen Schultz, refused to comment on the lawsuit, and officials at the Glen Ellyn Coldwell Banker branch said they had not seen the lawsuit, so they could not comment.

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