April 25, 2023
State attorneys general and plaintiffs firms join forces in fight against environmental pollution caused by “forever chemicals,” ushering in a new era of litigation which could cost billions.
Defense and plaintiff attorneys rarely agree on matters of a billion-dollar scale. When it comes to “forever chemicals,” however, both sides concede that the human and environmental cost could be astronomical. In the realm of PFAS (poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances) litigation, all bets are off.
But being on the same side might end there. Defendants are facing a joint effort by plaintiff firms and state attorneys general in suits with so much in potential damages that some wonder whether a bailout fund akin to what the automobile industry saw will be necessary for those facing PFAS liability.
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Water utilities are facing major challenges facilitating and ultimately financing large-scale cleanup of its drinking water resources. “They have to redo their infrastructure, and that costs a lot of money,” Cohen Milstein partner Theodore Leopold said. Most providers are shying away from passing the cost on to the consumer through rate increases. “Charging the taxpayer is really not fair,” so they try to find other avenues to get reimbursed, litigation being one of them.
“It’s a really, really difficult burden for smaller communities, cities and water utilities,” Leopold added, noting he has been having ongoing conversations and consultations with municipalities across the United States.
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So far, “we’re just scratching the surface on the amount of damages that has occurred to water systems by manufacturers of these toxic chemicals,” Leopold said.
Read the complete story on The National Law Journal.