NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyLoxahatchee Acreage


Jury rejects Acreage families' lawsuit against Pratt & Whitney concerning cancer cluster

Aerospace giant did not release pollution or transport radioactive materials into community, verdict says
gavel in courtroom generic without caption
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 19:18:16-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A federal jury rejected claims Tuesday that Pratt & Whitney was responsible for a cancer cluster in The Acreage more than a decade ago.

The verdict said that the aerospace giant did not release pollution or transport radioactive materials into the community from its facility located along Beeline Highway in western Palm Beach County.

While the jury found that Pratt & Whitney was not responsible for cancer that multiple residents contracted, the verdict said that the company "failed to exercise reasonable care in the use and disposal of radioactive materials" at the facility.


The lawsuit was filed in 2016, but the issue started well before in 2009 when several residents in the community reported brain and head tumors that were increasingly above expected rates.

The plaintiffs were parents and families from The Acreage who claimed that Pratt & Whitney was to blame for the cancer cluster.

"We were just really shocked that it came back not in their favor," Stephanie Ankiel West of the B.R.A.I.N Cancer Foundation of the Treasure Coast said. "If they can't get that verdict, it kind of dimmers where we're at here because what is it going to take here? We can't even have it called a cancer cluster."

Attorneys claimed that the state failed to properly test for specific radioactive contamination, ignored concerns voiced by its own people and neglected to hold Pratt & Whitney accountable for not cleaning up years' worth of toxic contamination in the area.

Brain tumor cases in The Acreage
Multiple brain tumor cases have been documented in The Acreage in previous years, leading to multiple lawsuits.

West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola took the lead on this case for the Acreage residents.

Members of Scarola's team said Wednesday that their fight isn't over yet.

"We’'re disappointed with the outcome," Mara Hatfield, an attorney with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA said. "We're confident that in subsequent cases, we'll be able to establish that the radioactive materials that Pratt & Whitney mishandled on its property, as the jury found, were, in fact, transported to the Acreage."

The plaintiffs' attorneys will appeal this week's decision and said there are other cases brought by residents that have not gone to trial.

A Pratt & Whitney spokesperson released the following statement regarding the verdict:

"The jury's verdict confirms our conviction that Pratt & Whitney did not cause any contamination in the Acreage and did not cause any cancers in the cancer cluster."