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.

NYS Senate Passes Bill in Response to Groundwater Contamination

920x920The New York Senate passed important legislation today regarding the groundwater contamination issue in Hoosick Falls and its surrounding areas.

Bill S6824A provides a date-of-discovery rule for civil actions based on exposure to toxic substances, which is beneficial to the injured person as he or she often does not know at the time of the injury that harm is occurring. Discovery of an injury may only occur when cancer or another slow-developing illness arises. Before this legislation, claims could be barred before the injured party even realized that they had been injured.

This bill will extend the allowable period of time for filing a claim when a site is identified as a threat to the health of the public or the environment. This will be based on either the date when the harm was discovered or when the site was classified as a Superfund site, whichever occurs later.

The bill, which can be viewed below, still needs to be signed by Governor Cuomo.

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


PFOA Informational Meetings in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh

PFOA Water ContaminationPFOA Informational Meetings are being held on JUNE 7 and JUNE 8, 2016 at 6:30pm to discuss recent PFOA developments.

The Petersburgh meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Petersburgh Veterans Memorial Community Center (PVMCC) located at 71 Main St., Petersburgh, NY 12138.

The Hoosick Falls meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Hoosick Falls Country Club located at 73 Richmond Avenue, Hoosick Falls, NY 12090.

Items discussed will include:

  • the EPA setting the PFOA health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion and what needs to be done to make sure your drinking water is safe;
  • interpreting soon to be released PFOA blood test results and what it means for your health; and
  • your family’s potential legal options.

This meeting is being sponsored by the law firms of Chaffin Luhana LLP, Williams Cuker Berezofsky, LLC and Faraci Lange, LLP.

Please attend if you are a client of these firms or a resident not represented by legal counsel who is interested in learning more about general PFOA developments or the litigation.

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.


Governor Cuomo Claims PFOA is Removed from Hoosick Falls Water

Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo visited Hoosick Falls, NY on Sunday and announced that a new filtration system in the town has successfully eliminated PFOA from the municipal water supply.

At a command center set up in Hoosick Falls by the Department of Environmental Conservation, Cuomo announced, “The PFOA is out of the water.”

Nevertheless, state officials are still warning Hoosick residents not to use tap water for consumption until a complete flush of the water system has been conducted.

Cuomo also discussed several permanent solutions that are being considered, which include using water from the Hoosic River, increasing the capacity of a village well that has lower levels of PFOA, or using a reservoir about 12 miles away.

The state aims to have the new system delivering clean tap water by next week.

Read the full story 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.


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.


Banks Suspend Granting Mortgages in Hoosick Falls

The Bank of Bennington and the Trustco Bank in Hoosick Falls have suspended granting new mortgages due to the area being contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Trustco Bank’s treasurer Kevin Timmons, who confirmed the report, says that before lenders can finance home, the property normally must have access to potable water. A standard test for potability includes testing for e-coli and other contaminants, but now perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) must be added to the list, which is the chemical that has been found at dangerous levels in Hoosick Falls’ water supply.

For the homes that are not on the public water supply, the bank requires that their private wells are tested before issuing their mortgage.

A temporary filtration system that will work to remove majority of the PFOA from the village’s water supply is set to be in place by the end of February. This system, along with the permanent filtration system anticipated to be completed in October, are being funded by Saint-Gobain.

Trustco and the Bank of Bennington have claimed that they will resume granting mortgages once the filtration system is in place and the public water supply is safe for cooking and drinking.

Read the full article here.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact us and complete a water contamination contact form.


Company That May Have Contaminated Hoosick Falls Water Supply Hires Top Lobbying Firm

perf_plastSaint-Gobain, the French company that has made Teflon-coated materials at a plant in the village of Hoosick Falls for decades, has retained a top lobbying firm as it braces for federal and state investigations and the possibility of enormous cleanup and legal costs for the contamination it may have caused in the village’s water supply.

Cozen O’Connor, which is the firm that Saint-Gobain has hired, already has its lobbyists beginning to reach out to federal elected officials in the state. Kenneth Fisher, a former New York City councilman, and Stuart Shorenstein are working with the company.

Spokeswoman Dina Pokedoff denied that Saint-Gobain was increasing its lobbying amid theHoosick Falls water contamination situation.

How exactly Hoosick Falls’ water supply became contaminated with industrial chemicals has not yet been determined. The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and Governor Cuomo’s administration has declared that it will designate it a Superfund site, which could leave whoever was responsible liable for cleanup efforts that could cost up to tens of millions.

On Tuesday, Saint-Gobain began installing a temporary facility to treat the water in the village of about 5,000 people. The state Department of Health has signed off on that facility, which will be in place until a permanent system is installed later this year, according to Mayor David Borge. Saint-Gobain will pay more than $300,000 for the temporary system.

“We are hopeful that, once confirmatory testing of the new system demonstrates the safely of the water, EPA will inform the community that it is acceptable to use the water for household purposes,” Borge said in a statement.

The EPA says the Teflon-coated materials that the Saint-Goblin factory produced in the village for decades may have contaminated Hoosick Falls water supply with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging and has been linked to cancer.

Read the full article here.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or to complete a water contamination contact form. You may also contact us here.


Governor Cuomo’s Administration To Declare Hoosick Falls a Superfund Site

hoosick fallsDuring a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo Administration officials announced that the state will declare the polluted water of Hoosick Falls a Superfund site, allowing the state to investigate the extent of any contamination and to begin remediation immediately.

The Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday issued an emergency regulation that will allow the state to list perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and may have polluted the Hoosick Falls water supply, as a hazardous substance.

The Department of Health will initiate a health-risk analysis, install filtration systems at schools and other community gathering places and develop a state telephone hotline for health information, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said at the conference. Blood testing of community members will begin in mid-February.

Zucker said the state will also revise the level of PFOA in water that it considers safe. The state currently considers a PFOA level in water safe as long as it is below 50,000 parts per trillion. That number is dramatically above the federal recommendation of 400 parts per trillion. Zucker said the state will set a new level within the next few weeks.

Residents of Hoosick Falls, a Rensselaer County community, first raised questions about the polluted water more than a year ago, when the village began to see elevated levels of unusual types of cancers and other medical conditions consistent with unhealthy PFOA levels. State officials learned about the pollution in late 2014, but did not conduct testing until July 2015, Zucker acknowledged.

Shortly after being informed of the situation this fall, the EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck took prompt action and federal regulators issued the warning about drinking.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and administration officials met with town officials shortly before Wednesday’s press conference.

“These actions will ensure that the source and extent of PFOA contamination is identified, and all necessary steps are taken to swiftly address the chemical’s presence,” Cuomo said in a statement. “My administration is investigating this situation fully, and we will do whatever is necessary to ensure safe, clean drinking water for local residents.”

For decades, the Saint-Gobain factory in Hoosick Falls produced Teflon-coated materials that the EPA says may have polluted the village water supply with PFOA, a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging. The EPA is investigating whether that chemical may have seeped into village wells when workers cleaned smokestack filters and other equipment at the factory, which Saint-Gobain has owned since 1999. Other factories in town may also used the chemical and its exact source has not yet been pinpointed.

The state’s inaction for more than a year caused more people to be exposed to PFOA, said Michael Hickey, a town resident who used his own money to discover the PFOA levels in the town’s water. After his father’s death from cancer, Hickey took his own water samples from sources around town and sent them to a lab out of state that confirmed elevated levels of PFOA.

Read the full article here.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or to complete a water contamination contact form. You may also contact us here.