ST. LOUIS – A former employee of the Goodfellow Federal Center in St. Louis has filed a class-action lawsuit over long-term exposure to lead, asbestos and other dangerous substances at the facility.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Matthew Medder, alleges that countless people suffered to seriously hazardous substances for prolonged periods of time. Some of those substances have been known to cause cancer.
Medder, who worked 17 years at the Goodfellow Center, gave FOX2 insight into the work conditions last year. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May 2016 and survived after experimental treatment. However, Medder says he has paid close to $20,000 in medical bills out of pocket, and he has not been reimbursed through workman’s comp.
“I put two and two together because of all the hazards, that’s what got me sick,” Medder told FOX2 in December 2021. “I was still taking cancer treatments, but once I finished, I decided to retire myself and took a 20% reduction in pay cause I did not want to get sick again.”
According to the lawsuit, thousands of federal workers visited or worked in the facility daily, some for decades. It alleges employees were only made aware of the hazardous environment in 2019 after the U.S. General Services Administration issued a scathing report.
The report stated the GSA “did not take adequate action to protect tenants, contractors, and visitors from hazards at the Goodfellow complex due to ineffective environmental management programs, policies, and guidance.” It further stated the GSA spent millions to study this problem, beginning as early as 2002, and yet did nothing once it learned of these conditions.
The new lawsuit contends that the United States failed to properly protect these workers or provide hazard pay for such conditions, even though workers are entitled to payments.
“Knowing their government willingly and knowingly exposed them to serious health problems shocked and disgusted thousands of employees,” said attorney Kiley Grombacher. “That these individuals now have to bring a lawsuit to help them cope with the long-term medical problems they will likely suffer is unbelievable. The list of potential health problems due to this exposure is as extensive as it is tragic.”
Missouri U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt are pushing for answers after exposure at the Goodfellow Federal Center and a nearby child development center.
“I want to know when GSA knew about it and who suppressed this information and evidence from families from workers, and I want to know what they are going to do to make it right,” Hawley told FOX2 last year. “We need to know why the GSA failed to tell families, parents, and kids since 2002.”
Last year, Hawley and Blunt also sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden addressing the situation. FOX2 will update if more information becomes available on the lawsuit.