Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

Newburgh, N.Y., tainted water suit to partially continue

Lake Washington, in Newburgh, New York, where 28,000 residents are being asked to have their blood tested for a toxic chemical found in the local water supply. (MIKE GROLL / AP)

“GOSHEN – Six plaintiffs who sued Newburgh for property damage and health problems they blame on years of using water contaminated with a toxic chemical can continue part of their case against the city, an Orange County judge has ruled.

Judge Catherine Bartlett sided with the city in dismissing claims for property damage brought by Diane and Ronald Hebrank; Michael Gorenstein; and Maribel and Roy Hamilton and their minor child.

The six were among 30 residents who filed a lawsuit in September 2017 that accused Newburgh of negligence and failing to warn residents about the dangers of perfluorooctane sulfonate in Washington Lake, the primary water supply the city closed on May 2, 2016.

While 24 of the plaintiffs withdrew from the case, Bartlett rejected Newburgh’s contention that the Gorensteins, Hamiltons and Hebranks had not filed timely personal injury claims under state law or had illnesses directly tied to PFOS exposure.

‘Defendants have not established conclusively that Plaintiffs have no cause of action,’ Bartlett ruled on May 14…

Each plaintiff claimed elevated levels of PFOS and associated health problems, including testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.

The firm was also seeking class-action status that would cover anyone who ingested PFOS through Newburgh’s water or owned property that has lost value because of the ‘stigma’ associated with the chemical…

State law requires that claims against a municipality be filed within 90 days of when the claim ‘arises.’

Citing her July ruling, Bartlett rejected property damage claims in the September lawsuit, concluding that the 90-day clock for property claims started ticking no later than August 2016, when the state publicly declared that the Stewart Air National Guard Base was a Superfund site and responsible for the contamination. But she rejected Newburgh’s claim that the 90-day window for personal injury claims began in November 2016, when the state Department of Health announced the start of a program to test residents for PFOS levels.”

Read the full article by Leonard Sparks