A federal judge selected Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., and Faraci Lange, LLP to serve as co-lead interim class counsel and to manage the Hoosick Falls, New York, class action lawsuit against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. and Honeywell International, Inc. The Court also appointed experienced Albany attorney John Powers of Powers & Santola LLP as interim liaison counsel for the plaintiffs, as Weitz & Luxenberg had requested. The Honorable Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York made the appointment.
Head of W&L’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection litigation unit Robin L. Greenwald will be leading the team’s effort, working alongside W&L attorneys James Bilsborrow and William Walsh. “I am honored by the Court’s appointment and look forward to working with all counsel for the benefit of the people of Hoosick Falls,” Greenwald said. “We have been working with many residents of Hoosick Falls to help address immediate issues and remain committed to aiding them and addressing the consequences of the substantial water pollution in the town through this litigation.”
Greenwald explained that the leadership appointment entrusts the firms with consolidation and management of five different actions brought in federal court. “With these actions, we have two distinct goals for the people in Hoosick Falls. A successful action will include remedies that establish a medical monitoring program for all residents of the Village and compensate property owners for the disastrous economic impact on their property values from the contamination and designation of their town as a Superfund site.”
Immediate Legal Cases Address Property Damage
Weitz & Luxenberg commenced the first lawsuit on behalf of the residents of the Village of Hoosick Falls in February 2016. That class action alleged that Saint Gobain and, before it, Honeywell had operated a facility in the Village and had released perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) into the environment for years, indeed decades, resulting in a substantial contamination of the local aquifer and, accordingly, private wells and the municipal water supply. Testing in 2015 repeatedly detected PFOA in the municipal water at levels above 600 parts per trillion (ppt). Early this year, the EPA issued a new provisional health advisory for PFOA and established a new lifetime limit of 70 ppt.
The discovery of widespread groundwater contamination had an immediate impact on property values in Hoosick Falls. The State’s declaration of the area as a State Superfund Site further impacted property values. W&L’s class action seeks to recover lost property values for their owners. It also seeks, as one of its remedies and for all residents, a medical monitoring program to insure early detection of diseases associated with PFOA exposure.
Greenwald noted, “PFOA remains within the groundwater in Hoosick Falls and represents a continuing threat to the residents of the Village. While we will rely on the State to oversee the remediation of the contamination, these class actions will strive to address the long-term impact on all of the residents of the Village as a class.”
Illnesses Due to PFOA-Contaminated Water in Hoosick Falls
PFOA constitutes a significant health risk to individuals who have been exposed to the chemical. Federal litigation in Ohio produced an epidemiological study of PFOA, and that examination determined that prolonged (over a year) exposure to a minute level of PFOA (less than 0.5 parts per billion) can be linked with the following diseases:
• Kidney cancer
• Testicular cancer
• Thyroid disease
• Ulcerative colitis
• Osteoporosis (and bone density reduction)
• High cholesterol
• Pregnancy-induced hypertension.
The New York State Department of Health conducted a series of blood tests on Hoosick Falls residents earlier this year. Those test results suggest that local residents have been exposed to PFOA within the environment for decades. “We now know what we suspected all along,” Greenwald reported, “that the PFOA levels are not only higher than those of the national average but excessively higher —in some cases more than 130 times higher.”
Greenwald Heads W&L Team Overseeing Hoosick Falls Lawsuit
W&L of counsel attorney Robin Greenwald is heading the team charged with overseeing the Hoosick Falls, New York, PFOA-contaminated water class action litigation. Since joining W&L in 2005, she has helped secure a number of remarkable victories for people harmed by the actions of large corporations.
As a Plaintiffs Steering Committee member in litigation against British Petroleum for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Greenwald helped secure billions of dollars for thousands of victims.
She also played a key role in reaching a settlement with Volkswagen, which had covered up its dangerous and illegal diesel emissions. Greenwald also served as liaison counsel in suits against General Motors regarding its defective ignition switch in millions of cars.
Currently, she is serving on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee overseeing data breach litigation against health insurer Excellus.
She is joined in this litigation by her colleagues William Walsh and James Bilsborrow.
W&L Is Working to Help the People of Hoosick Falls
Since its founding in the mid-1980s, W&L has dedicated itself to representing people hurt by the actions, or inactions, of those that consider themselves too large to be touched — the large bureaucracies and corporate behemoths.
We are clear about our mission. We help victims of environmental degradation, unscrupulous business practices and corporate wrongdoing.
We’ve stood up to the oil companies, the health care industry, auto manufacturers and businesses. These companies have spent considerable time and effort beefing up their profit margins while ignoring the health and safety of workers, consumers, the environment and the people who live and work in this country.
As a national firm, we are recognized for our tenacity, expertise, and commitment to achieving the best results possible for our clients. With attorneys acting on behalf of the firm across the country, you can guarantee that wherever there is a need for legal action on a grand scale, we will be there helping the people harmed by that crisis.
Our appointment as co-lead interim class counsel for this Hoosick Falls class action lawsuit is recognition of the fact that we will use all our experience and expertise to gain justice for our clients.