Water contamination has been an issue since the dawn of time. While the contamination levels are decreasing, it is still a massive concern for many people who don’t have access to clean water. Recent data from Great Lakes Now shows that around 7-8% of community water utilities have violated at least one health-based law according to Federal Standards.
For example, dozens of children at a Boston hospital were asked to stop drinking tap water, as it resulted in bacterial infection. In November-December 2022, Franciscan Children’s Hospital did not allow anyone in two pediatric rehab facility areas to consume tap water, which reportedly contained bacteria.
As a result of the contaminated water supply, you should be aware of many previous and ongoing lawsuits. This article will look at some of history’s most notorious cases and settlements.
Woburn, Massachusetts vs. W.R. Grace and Company
Woburn residents filed a lawsuit against W.R. Grace and Company, alleging that their children had developed leukemia due to contaminated water from the city’s municipal wells. The suit was settled in 1986 for $8 million.
Still, only seven families could receive money from the settlement because they had children who died from leukemia or cancer during their lifetime. Residents exposed to contaminated water between 1955 and 1990 were also eligible for compensation under this settlement agreement.
However, there are no plans to distribute any additional funds from this case until all appeals have been exhausted by both parties involved in this legal battle. Despite such occurrences, the problem of contaminated water exists.
Flint Water Crisis
In Flint, Michigan, the water crisis began in 2014 when the city switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River as its source of drinking water. The change was made because the city could not afford to continue buying treated water.
The local government had failed to properly treat the river water with anti-corrosion chemicals before pumping it into homes and businesses across Flint. That failure led to high levels of lead in the tap water and even higher levels in blood samples taken from children who lived there between 2013 and 2015.
Lead exposure can cause long-term health problems, including damage to the nervous systems and kidneys. Children exposed before age 6 are particularly susceptible because their brains are still developing. That’s why the maximum allowed lead concentration in public drinking water is 15 µg/L.
The judge has passed the final sentence that the Michigan state will give around $600 million as a settlement amount to families who faced problems due to the water crisis.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune was the largest Marine Corps base in the country, home to more than 100,000 active duty military personnel and their families.
The water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated by industrial solvents from 1953 to 1987. These chemicals included trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, perchloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride, all carcinogens that have caused severe health problems for people who lived there during those years.
The contamination has been linked to an increased risk of cancers like leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, male reproductive issues including testicular cancer, and female reproductive issues such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
Experts believe the Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts can range between $10,000 to $500,000 based on your case’s strength. These estimations are based on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) budget for these lawsuits.
This is still an ongoing case, which means you can file a lawsuit if you have faced problems due to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. TorHoerman Law’s website states you can file a claim with the Navy JAG/Tort Claims Unit. If your claim is not settled within six months, you can file a lawsuit in North Carolina’s District Court.
3M 2010 Minnesota Lawsuit
In 2010, the state of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against 3M for polluting its water. The state claimed that 3M had dumped perfluorochemicals (PFCs) into Lake Superior and other bodies of water between 1952 and 2007, which caused environmental damage to the ecosystem.
3M agreed to pay $850 million as part of an out-of-court settlement with several parties involved in the case. This amount is one of the largest environmental settlements ever reached in U.S. history.
DuPont C8 Water Contamination Lawsuit
A lawsuit was filed in 2010 by 3,500 people who lived near DuPont’s Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The plaintiffs claimed that the company had contaminated their drinking water with a chemical called C8.
In 2017, DuPont agreed to pay $671 million to settle this case and another related lawsuit involving C8 contamination. This amount was divided among all 3,500 plaintiffs according to how long they had lived near the plant and how much exposure they had received from drinking contaminated water.
The settlement included two parts. One where people could receive compensation for medical bills related to kidney disease or testicular cancer. Another where people would be paid based on how much time they spent showering at home using contaminated tap water during specific times between 2001-2006.
Hoosick Falls, New York Water Contamination Lawsuit
The Hoosick Falls, New York, water contamination lawsuit was the first of several similar cases that would eventually be filed against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International. The two companies were accused of negligently exposing residents to PFOA for decades through their manufacturing operations in the town.
The settlement was reached after months of negotiations between attorneys for both parties and was approved by Judge Marianne B. Bowler on March 24, 2017. In addition to paying out $1 million in attorney fees and costs associated with litigation services provided by local law firms, Saint-Gobain agreed to pay $65 million to fund health monitoring programs designed specifically for those affected by PFOA exposure levels above 70 ppt.
These are just a few water contamination lawsuits we have covered. As you can see, numerous other cases have been settled, and many more are still pending. Remember that these settlements may not include compensation for all those affected by these contaminations, but they do provide some relief to those they harmed.