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Federal judge may consolidate Whirlpool lawsuits

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge is weighing whether to consolidate two lawsuits against Whirlpool Corp. over pollution at its former factory in Fort Smith.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes said in an order issued Wednesday that the lawsuits are nearly identical and were filed at the same time in state court. They have since been moved to federal court.

One lawsuit is on behalf of 10 homeowners and the other is on behalf of landlords who own 36 properties.

A separate complaint seeks class status.

The factory closed in 2012 and the company says a plume of trichloroethylene, a known carcinogen, leaked into groundwater at the plant site.

The lawsuits seek damages for diminished property values and other effects, and seek punitive damages.

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