Nacole Hutley with a photo of her late son, Javien...

Nacole Hutley with a photo of her late son, Javien Coleman, taken while he was in the hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The parents of an East Patchogue teenager who died last year of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the South Country Central School District and Brookhaven Town, citing their “negligence” in failing to protect Frank P. Long Intermediate School students from what they allege is toxic air emanating from the nearby landfill.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Suffolk Supreme Court, seeks at least $3 million in damages and contends the death of 13-year-old Javien Coleman could have been prevented if the town properly operated the 192-acre landfill and if the school district shuttered the Bellport school once students and staff started getting sick, allegedly from the noxious emissions.

Javien attended the school, located a mile south of the landfill, for two years before his lymphoma diagnosis in October 2021.

“There were materials coming from the landfill that infiltrated the school and made Javien sick,” said E. Christopher Murray, a Uniondale attorney representing the teen’s parents, Nacole Hutley and Joseph Coleman.

Javien’s type of cancer is linked to exposure to benzene and TCE, two chemicals that tests show have been emitted from the landfill and have been found at elevated levels inside the school, Murray said.

“The odors are so strong that the staff and students at Frank P. Long have been overwhelmed, experienced rashes, headaches, coughs, irritated eyes, stomach aches, dizziness, respiratory issues, vertigo and/or nausea,” the suit states.

The district has rejected repeated efforts to close or move the school, while the town has pledged to close the landfill next year.

Brookhaven Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

In a statement, the school district said, “We continue to keep Javien Coleman, as well as his family and friends affected by his untimely passing, in our thoughts and prayers. Regarding matters of litigation, the district cannot comment.”

During a news conference in January announcing a notice of claim against the municipalities — a precursor to a lawsuit — Hutley described her son as a healthy and athletic boy who loved football and had no health problems before attending the school in 2019.

Nacole Hutley during a press conference announcing a notice of claim, a precursor...

Nacole Hutley during a press conference announcing a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the South Country Central School District and the Town of Brookhaven for negligence in the death of her son Javien Coleman.  Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Shortly thereafter, Javien began to have serious head and back aches, stomach pains and weight loss, Hutley said. He died last year, even after receiving a bone-marrow transplant from his 17-year-old brother, she added.

“The school should be shut down,” Hutley said at the time. “They’re jeopardizing a lot of kids.”

Concerns about toxic emissions from the landfill, which was opened by the state in 1974 as a solid waste collection facility, date back more than a decade.

In 2020, the town agreed to pay a nearly $250,000 fine and to perform better monitoring of the landfill as part of a settlement with the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Brookhaven, which insists the landfill presents no public health risk, said it has spent $20 million to contain odors from hydrogen sulfide and leachate at the landfill.

Newsday reported this month that trash incinerator Covanta Hempstead for years couldn’t be certain the ash it was dumping at the landfill was nonhazardous. Internal company emails revealed facility employees suspected their ash practices were risky, imprecise and contrary to what was represented to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC is now investigating Covanta’s handling of ash during the period in question, but the company asserts the material was never proved hazardous, or to have caused environmental or health harm.

A 2019 State Health Department report found staff at the school did not appear to be developing cancer at an unusually high rate. Murray called the report “meaningless,” noting it was limited to a small number of teachers and conducted over a short period of time.

With Paul LaRocco

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