Weitz & Luxenberg is investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed responsible for certain cancers and other illnesses affecting residents of Hoosick Falls, New York, where the residents have unwittingly been drinking water contaminated with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), the nationally known personal injury and mass tort law firm today announced.

W&L has not yet named the companies, but indicated that a potential lawsuit against them would seek compensation for the harmed residents of Hoosick Falls, a town of 6,500 in central upstate New York.

W&L has been working with famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich to identify affected residents and to develop a case against the parties responsible for the contamination of the town’s groundwater, said Robin L. Greenwald, who heads the firm’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection litigation unit.

At this stage, W&L is focused on talking to Hoosick Falls residents who used the PFOA-tainted water for drinking, cooking or bathing, and then afterward suffered health problems, as well as residents who cannot now drink their water because of the contamination, Greenwald said.

Most adversely affected have been residents of the Hoosick Falls section of town, where more than half of the population lives, Greenwald indicated. She added that the firm has already spoken to nearly two-dozen residents from Hoosick Falls and elsewhere in the vicinity.

EPA Plans Townhall Meeting on PFOA

PFOA has been linked to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, bone density reduction, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension, Greenwald said.

”Health problems can result from exposure to as little as one-half of one part-per-billion of PFOA in drinking water” she explained. ”One full part per billion is equivalent to a single drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool. Testing last year near Hoosick Falls’s water treatment plant found PFOA levels of 18 parts per billion.

”Due to its composition, PFOA remains indefinitely in the environment. It also accumulates and remains inside the human body. It is a very problematic chemical for these reasons,” added Greenwald.

The New York State Public Health Department recently recommended residents use bottled water instead of tap, she said.

That echoed a mid-December recommendation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that advised Hoosick Falls residents to avoid municipal public water for drinking or cooking and cautioned that showering or bathing in it could pose a health risk, Greenwald said.

The EPA plans to conduct a public meeting in Hoosick Falls on Thursday, Jan. 14, to discuss PFOA health concerns due to contaminated groundwater and possible plans for cleaning up the town’s water supply, said Greenwald.

”It will be an open forum discussion that begins at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Hoosick Falls Central School, located at 21187 NY-22,” she said. ”The featured speaker will be EPA regional administrator Judith Enck. She will be joined by several EPA science and health experts. Information about PFOA will be distributed.  W&L will have representatives at this meeting, which is being organized in cooperation with Healthy Hoosick Water, a not-for-profit corporation helping lead the effort to restore the town’s water supply to a safe condition.”

PFOA Water Contamination Lawsuit

The firm continues to investigate all parties responsible for the contamination, Greenwald said.

Such a lawsuit will likely include demands for ongoing medical monitoring of Hoosick Falls residents in addition to compensation for nuisance, diminution in the value of their real property and — for those sickened — the costs of medical treatment, lost wages and pain and suffering, Greenwald said.

Last year, an Ohio federal jury awarded one plaintiff $1.6 million in compensation on her negligence and emotional distress claims against DuPont. The plaintiff alleged that she developed kidney cancer from drinking water contaminated with PFOA and that DuPont was responsible for the groundwater contamination, Greenwald noted.  More than 3,500 personal injury cases arising from PFOA exposure are pending in federal district court in Ohio. 

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities impacted by PFOA groundwater contamination are encouraged to contact W&L for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with an attorney to discuss legal rights to compensation, Greenwald said.

The consultation can be set up by contacting W&L at 800-476-6070 or by completing a request form.

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