Saturday, March 10, 2018

Slow crawl of Bucks, Montgomery tainted-water lawsuits

Dismissals, appeals and plenty of dense procedure define first 18 months of lawsuits filed over widespread drinking water contamination along the counties’ border.

Kyle Bagenstose reports for the Bucks County Courier Post:

Eighteen months after a slew of lawsuits were filed over drinking water contamination in Bucks and Montgomery counties, the cases still are in limbo in county and federal courts.

The suits represent more than a thousand area residents who were presumably exposed to unregulated perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water, which are believed to have originated from firefighting foam used at military bases near the counties’ shared border. The suits seek myriad remedies, including blood testing, health screenings, and monetary damages related to health conditions, property values and other related costs.

“We’re still in the infancy,” said Donald Soutar, an associate attorney of New York City law firm Weitz & Luxenberg and lead counsel of the largest area lawsuit. “It’s fair to say (it’ll be) a matter of years.”

In total, eight significant lawsuits have been filed on behalf of residents affected by the contamination since 2016, although several have since been consolidated. Soutar, whose firm is associated with consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, is lead counsel on a consolidated class-action lawsuit, joined by attorneys from Creedon & Feliciani of Norristown, as well as attorneys from three Philadelphia-based firms: Anapol Weiss, Levin Sedran & Berman and Napoli Shkolnik.

More than a thousand residents have signed on to the suit, filed in September 2016, Soutar said. However, if successful, its class-action status means that any of the tens of thousands of residents meeting certain criteria for their exposure to the chemicals would be eligible for awards, including a medical monitoring program to screen for potential illnesses, a blood testing program and certain monetary damages.

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