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Water Contamination Lawsuits

The quality of the drinking water supply in the United States has long been a significant health concern. Studies reveal that many communities across the country have struggled for years to obtain access to a safe and contaminant-free water supply. This is the case despite the fact that federal law maintains strict standards for water safety as outlined in the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates every public water system in the country, and the Clean Water Act, of 1972 which mandates that polluters reveal information about the toxins they dump in water sources. Yet a study of the nation’s water supply in 2015 found that almost 77 million Americans live in communities whose water supplies were in violation of federal safety regulations.

The Dangers Associated with Contaminated Water

Tap water in many areas of the country contains elevated levels of lead, nitrates, arsenic and other pollutants. People who drink contaminated water may experience a variety of adverse health conditions including gastrointestinal issues, stomach pains, cramping, nausea, diarrhea and dehydration. Many of the effects of contaminated water ingestion are not readily apparent. However, long term exposure to a polluted water source can contribute to serious diseases, such as cancer. Individuals who are using an unsafe water source may initially be unaware that they are exposed to danger but may later notice that many people in the same vicinity are suffering form similar illnesses. In addition, contaminated water sources are often unreported. In many cases, once a resident receives notice concerning contaminated water in his neighborhood, it may be too late.

Lawsuits Transpire in West Virginia Upon Dumping of Contaminants

In many cases, contaminated water is the result of irresponsible actions by corporate entities. Almost 2,500 personal injury lawsuits have been filed against DuPont for dumping a toxic chemical, known as C8, in the Ohio River. The chemical, also called perfluorooctanoic acid, is used to make non-stick surfaces for cookware. The contaminant has affected the health of residents on both sides of the river in in Ohio and West Virginia. The deluge of lawsuits follows a class action litigation in West Virginia from 2001 in which residents near the DuPont factory alleged that the company was aware for years that C8 was a dangerous chemical. The case was settled in 2005 when DuPont promised that it would remove C8 from the water source and fund a panel to determine whether the chemical had injured the 70,000 residents with access to the water source.

The study found a connection between exposure to C8 and the development of kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, pregnancy related hypertension, and ulcerative colitis. The settlement permitted residents who developed these conditions or surviving family members to initiate personal injury lawsuits against DuPont.

The Widespread Problem of Contamination

A 2015 report found 80,000 violations of drinking water safety regulations in the country. Around 12.000 of these reports detected actual contamination in the water. The problem is not limited to highly publicized incidents of water contamination such as Flint, Michigan. In cities all over the country, including Sebring, Ohio, Durham, North Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi, among others, unsafe levels of lead have been discovered in the drinking water. However, the overall regulatory response has been nonexistent. Indeed, 9 out of 10 violations were spared formal action.

Ultimately, the state is responsible for implementing federal safety standards. Individuals who have been injured through exposure to contaminated water may have an action under state law to recover for expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. In some cases, where water has been contaminated by egregious corporate acts, plaintiffs may be entitled to punitive damages.

In the News

The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP handle water contamination cases nationwide. We are currently acting as lead counsel and liaison counsel in the Flint Water Crisis Litigation. We can help you obtain the compensation you and your children deserve for your injuries. Call us today at (800) 315-3806 for a free and confidential evaluation.

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