It's been four years since the Kiddie Kollege, the day care center built in a facility with dangerous levels of mercury, was shut down. As the trial opened yesterday, the emotions of the parents involved were as raw as the day the mercury contamination at the New Jersey day care center was discovered.

In all, more than 100 children were found to have been exposed to high levels of mercury at Kiddie Kollege day care center while it was in operation. Now the courts must decide if those children require medical monitoring, and if so, who is responsible for it.  

Kiddie Kollege was a private day care center operated in a former thermometer factory. The center was shut down in 2006 when it was discovered that children and employees at Kiddie Kollege were exposed to high levels of mercury. According to attorneys who represent the families of the children and employees, agencies representing the township, state and county knew about the contamination well before Kiddie Kollege ever opened.

The plaintiffs (the families of the children and workers exposed at the day care center) have proposed a monitoring program that would require each child to have 10 hours per year of medical testing to track the children's levels of mercury and symptoms of toxic exposure. The frequency of this testing would decrease over time. If accepted, the medical monitoring would be paid for by a court-supervised fund paid into by parties the court deems responsible.

Franklin Township, New Jersey; Gloucester County, New Jersey; and N.J. state agencies could all be held liable if the judge rules in favor of the medical monitoring protocol. The real estate brokers who sold the property and the operators of the day care center could also be held accountable.

The defendants in the case contend that the children have not shown symptoms of mercury exposure in the four years since the day care was closed, and therefore there is no need to undertake such an extensive medical monitoring program.

It's the job of the plaintiffs to prove that mercury exposure could produce symptoms in the future, even years after exposure.