Motion to Dismiss Hoosick Falls Class Action Denied by Federal District Court

In a 39 page decision released today, United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn of the Northern District of New York denied the motion filed by defendants Saint Gobain and Honeywell seeking to dismiss the consolidated Hoosick Falls water contamination class action filed on behalf of village residents.

The Court held that plaintiffs had properly stated valid legal claims for negligence, trespass and nuisance due to the PFOA contamination of the drinking water in Hoosick Falls allegedly caused by the defendants.

The defendants made the argument that contaminating a resident’s drinking water does not give rise to a valid claim because the water is not owned by the resident but by the State of New York. This argument was rejected by the Court in the today’s decision.

The Court also held that plaintiffs’ claims to establish a medical monitoring program for the residents of Hoosick Falls to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to PFOA exposure could proceed because the residents had properly alleged an injury to both person and property.

The Court did grant one portion of defendants’ motion dismissing nuisance claims brought on behalf of the residents who obtained their water from the public water supply, holding that these residents could not bring a private nuisance claim.

The entire decision can be read here.


Settlement of $850,000 Reached in Hoosick Falls Lawsuit

Hoosick Falls PFOA lawsuit settlementEarlier this month, the two companies that were held accountable for contaminating the water supply of Hoosick Falls with PFOA agreed to a $850,000 proposed settlement agreement.

The money paid by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell in the settlement will contribute to the costs of water sampling, flushing waterlines, repairing fire hydrants, engineering, legal services, public relations, and the losses incurred from reduced water and sewer usage.

Mayor David Borge stated that the agreement, “will ensure that village residents are not forced to bear the financial burden of paying for the village’s response to the PFOA crisis — a situation they did not create.”

The agreement will also reserve rights by the village for any “future potential liabilities related to PFOA releases associated with the companies’ former manufacturing facilities in the village. PFOA contamination that may have resulted from other locations, such as the village-owned landfill, are not covered by the new agreement.”

This settlement agreement is separate from the consent order between the two companies and the state Department of Environmental Conservation that is seeking to recoup costs of additional sampling and filtering, as well as cleanup of the state Superfund site.

Read the full article here.


Hoosick Falls Water Expansion Project in Need of Other Funding

Hoosick Falls water expansion project

Edward Damon – Bennington Banner

After discovering that they may not receive grant money from a state agency, Hoosick Falls village officials must now seek other funding sources in order to expand the municipal water system.

According to Mayor David Borge, the proposed project to extend water and sewer to properties with PFOA-contaminated drinking wells will not be eligible for grants unless a new water municipality is formed.

In addition, the project’s Environmental Facilities Corporation ranking was not high enough to qualify it for no-interest loans or grants.

At a Village Board meeting held last week, Mayor Borge said that the village will work with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Kathleen Marchione to look for other sources of funding.

Read the full story here.


County Legislators Approves Resolution to Speed Up Hoosick Falls Cleanup

hoosick falls PFOA water contaminatonLast week, Rensselaer County legislators unanimously approved a resolution in hopes of speeding up the cleanup process of the site identified as the source of PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.

The resolution was suggested by the Legislature’s chairman, Stan Brownell.

Along with including the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ McCaffrey Street plant on the federal Superfund National Priorities List, the resolution also asks for adequate funding and a proper timeline for the cleanup.

PFOA, which has been linked to numerous chronic health risks, has been affecting Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh residents for over a year.

“This is an important property in Hoosick Falls, and inclusion on the federal National Priorities List will help restore the property and resolve some of the concerns residents have regarding the PFOA situation,” said Brownell. “We also have asked the federal government to provide a specific timeline for this important remediation work. A clear and direct line of communication with residents on this project, and continued progress, are needed to restore confidence and trust.”

The Rensselaer County Legislature also recently approved a resolution to establish a website dedicated to informing residents about the cleanup project.

Read the full story here.


Hoosick Falls Water Contamination Hearings Begin

A State Senate committee held a daylong hearing in Hoosick Falls this week to address the PFOA water contamination issue that has been affecting residents for months.

Michael Hickey, a Hoosick Falls lifelong resident who was one of the first to bring attention to the town’s contaminated water, spoke at the hearing about how he discovered a connection between the death of his father from kidney cancer and the toxic chemical Teflon.

Hoosick Falls water contamination

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

“All I typed in was Teflon and cancer, because that’s what was in the factory that was in Hoosick Falls where my father worked,” stated Hickey at the Tuesday hearing.

Although it only took Hickey “about five minutes,” it took government officials much longer to notice the contamination, or to take action.

Only in recent months has the gravity of this issue come to light as researchers found that the town’s public water supply was tainted with high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used in several products as well as in the production of Teflon.

State officials have identified the source of the contamination as the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant.

Several nearby towns in New York as well as in Vermont have also reported high levels of PFOA since then.

Dr. Marcus Martinez, a local physician, had also testified alongside Hickey stating he had long noted what he believed to be unusually high rates of cancer in the village. He said that he and Hickey had brought their concerns, as well as test results, to the attention of village and state officials in 2014, but had been disappointed by a lack of action.

“I do believe our citizens were advised incorrectly to consume water that was unsafe for at least for 12 months,” Dr. Martinez said.

Read the full article in the New York Times.


NYS Updates Hoosick Falls Residents on Blood Tests

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health held a meeting last week to provide Hoosick Falls’ residents with a status update on the PFOA water contamination in the town.

Hoosick Falls PFOA contaminationAfter conducting almost three thousand blood tests in Hoosick Falls, the exposure of the contamination is more clear.

It was found that individuals who use Hoosick Falls village water have, “30 times the amount of PFOA in their blood than the average American.”

It can take anywhere between two to four years for PFOA levels to decrease in the blood system by half.

Those affected are advised to contact a physician after receiving their blood test results as many of the potential side effects of PFOA exposure are treatable.

Read the full story here.

 


Faraci Lange Attorneys Named Interim Class Counsel in Hoosick Falls Lawsuit

Hoosick Falls water contamination LawsuitThe United States District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an order today appointing the Law Firms of Faraci Lange and Weitz & Luxenberg as Co-Lead Interim Class Counsel in the Hoosick Falls water contamination lawsuit.

The order also granted requests to consolidate four similar claims alleging that Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International caused the groundwater in Hoosick Falls to be contaminated with the hazardous chemical, PFOA.

Plaintiffs claim that the contamination caused residents to be subjected to numerous health issues as well as devaluation of their property in the area.

After considering several competing proposals for appointment of interim class counsel, the court decided in favor of the Faraci Lage and Weitz & Luxenberg group, citing their, “…extensive experience in mass tort litigation in general, as well as specific experience in water contamination class actions in New York State.”

The order also noted the active involvement of both law firms in identifying and investigating potential claims since the earliest possible stage of the contamination in Hoosick Falls, as well as “conducting meetings, advising residents, and consulting with experts.”

Faraci Lange and Weitz & Luxenberg has met with over 1000 residents and has been retained by approximately 700 clients at the time of the Court’s initial hearing in June.

Attorneys Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo at Faraci Lange, as well as Robin Greenwald at Weitz & Luxenberg, represent the plaintiffs as co-lead counsel in the Hoosick Falls lawsuit.

Read the court’s decision here.

Man Credited with Discovering PFOA in Hoosick Falls Files Lawsuit

Lawsuit Filed Hoosick FallsMichael Hickey, the man who was credited to have discovered the toxic chemical PFOA in the water supply of Hoosick Falls two years ago, filed a federal class-action lawsuit this week.

The lawsuit, which Hickey filed on behalf of himself and his son, targets manufacturing plants Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as the potential cause of the contamination.

Hickey states that his concern of any future health effects caused by their consumption of the PFOA-tainted water for years lead him to pursue this claim.

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Albany and is one of several lawsuits filed this year on behalf of Hoosick Falls residents. Some allege that they may have developed serious health issues due to the PFOA exposure.

Hickey began looking into the village’s water two years ago when he noticed an unusually high rate of cancer among the community residents. This is when he detected an elevated level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a harmful man-made chemical, in the public drinking-water supply.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Hickey by Stephen G. Schwarz and Hadley L. Matarazzo of Faraci Lange LLP, Gerald J. Williams, Esther E. Berezofsky and Michael J. Quirk of Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, and Eric Chaffin and Roopal P. Luhana of Chaffin Luhana LLP.

Read the full story here.


Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Inventory in Hoosick Falls

Village of Hoosick FallsThe Village of Hoosick Falls is asking residents who own swimming pools and/or hot tubs that are filled with water prior to the installation of the GAC filtering and system flushing to report that information to the Village. This inventory will be shared with the New York State authorities to help develop a plan to address this issue.

Please fill out and submit this form to have your information sent to the Hoosick Falls Village Clerk.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted by the PFOA water contamination are encouraged to submit a contact form.


Water Filters Installed in Private Wells Labeled Not Safe for Consumption in Hoosick Falls

A Department of Environmental Conservation contractor recently installed filters in private wells in Hoosick Falls that were intended to eliminate PFOA, which is a chemical linked to causing cancer. However, these filters were labeled with a warning, saying the product is known “to cause cancer and birth defects.”

In addition, the label states that the water filter is illegal to use in the United States for human consumption, which is the main purpose of the private wells in Hoosick Falls.

Hoosick Falls Water Filter

The Department of Environmental Conservation made the following statement regarding this error:

“A supplier incorrectly shipped one box of valves that are not to be used with drinking water to a contractor. Immediately upon discovery late last night, DEC began tracking down the incorrect valves so they can be replaced. DEC terminated the companies responsible for the error. However, homeowners still continue to be advised not to drink or use water from the filtration systems until the state advises them that it is acceptable for all uses, so these systems were not used.”

The DEC also stated that it is unsure of how many incorrect water filters were installed.

If you have had a filter installed recently, please check the label to make sure it is not marked unsafe for consumption.

Read the full article here.


Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted by the PFOA water contamination are encouraged to submit a contact form.