Environmental Toxic Tort

Environmental Toxic Tort Law Firm in Pennsylvania

Williams Cuker Berezofsky is known for our relentless and successful battles on behalf of people exposed to toxic chemicals. For more than 25 years, our environmental toxic tort lawyers have represented individuals and communities who have suffered the serious –and all-too-often fatal –effects of noxious, polluted environments. Fracking and fracking-related accidents are presenting new problems that have the potential to affect homeowners and businesses.

Hoosick Falls, NY  residents exposed to the highly toxic chemical PFOA and Flint, MI families experiencing toxic lead poisoning in their water have met with Esther Berezofsky and Gerald Williams to learn about their legal rights and how to protect their health and well-being.

View our page on Fresno, CA

View our page on Flint, MI          

View our page on Hoosick Falls & Petersburgh, NY and other upstate New York and Vermont towns

Watch our blog , view our video, and like the firm’s Facebook page  for updated information including when the next community and WCB meetings are, how to get water and blood testing, and what our attorneys are preparing to do for legal action.

 

We have won landmark toxic tort cases that resulted not only in significant financial recoveries for our clients, but have established important legal precedents that have benefited individuals and communities across the country.

View our Environmental Video Page and Environmental Tort Law Blog.

“In toxic exposure cases, victims feel that both the laws of nature and rules of men have been violated. Tort law empowers a victim to vindicate perceptions, assume control of his or her affairs, and control institutional lawlessness.” -Esther Berezofsky

Topics:


TOXIC EXPOSURE

enviro-toxic-retort-1Toxic exposure occurs from: leaking underground tanks, train derailments, tanker truck accidents, home heating oil spills, discharges from landfills, and pollution from industrial facilities. These hazards can be immediate, as in the case of a major train derailment, or as “silent assassins,” as poisons leech into the drinking water of an unwitting community over many years.

When groundwater is contaminated with toxins, it can seep into domestic drinking water wells with detectable, serious levels of potentially disease-causing chemicals. This underground pollution can also result in vapor intrusion, allowing invisible, toxic gases to penetrate nearby homes.

Williams Cuker Berezofsky’s successful representation of hundreds of families affected by chemical contamination is detailed in a Pulitzer prize-winning book released 2014.

“You learn a lot about the human condition in these cases-especially heartbreaking are the ones that involve children, like the Toms River case.” -Mark Cuker

 

Careless industrial practices can lead to widespread soil and air contamination, and endanger the health of an entire community. Exposure over time can lead to cancer, developmental disabilities, and other health problems that may take years to manifest. Property values can be diminished or result from structural damage (including cracked home foundations from fracking nearby) that can be difficult and expensive to remediate.

Toxins frequently seen in environmental cases include:

  • trichloroethylene [TCE]
  • perchloroethylene [PCE]
  • perfluorinated compounds [PFC’s]
  • benzene
  • lead
  • arsenic
  • cadmium
  • vinyl chloride
  • gasoline and its constituents (including the additive MTBE)
  • hexavalent chromium

For workplace toxins, view our workplace safety page.


CLEAN-UP & COST RECOVERY

It is a little known fact that a number of federal and state pollution control acts (the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act among them) contain provisions which virtually “deputize” private citizens to take legal action on behalf of themselves and their communities, and prosecute violators of environmental laws. The court can order the polluter to pay your legal fees.

Certain environmental statutes also allow landowners and businesses to recover all costs associated with remediating, or cleaning up, contaminated sites. Potential claimants include those who have been required by a governmental agency to pay such costs.

Williams Cuker Berezofsky has represented a number of citizens and community groups in such cases, winning court costs/legal fees as well as all costs of clean-up and remediation of the polluted area.


OIL SPILLS

Home heating oil spills can damage not only home and health, but can pollute soil (and drinking water for homes with wells). Oil may have been pumped directly into the home or basement, missing the tank entirely, or the tank could have been negligently overfilled. This oil could seep into neighboring property or wetlands, affecting more than just one family or business.

Such spills can impact both the short- and long-term health of those exposed. A home’s structure and household belongings may sustain more damage than is immediately evident, and the home may even be unsafe for occupancy over the short- or longer term.

Williams Cuker Berezofsky has successfully represented homeowners and others affected by toxic oil spills for more than 25 years.  Recent successes include:

  • Palinkas v. Petro Holdings, Inc.: A $480,000 jury verdict was awarded a family in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania whose home was flooded with oil pumped directly into their basement by an oil company driver despite the fact that they did not use home heating oil. It was six years before the family had their day in court; due to the delay, our firm filed a “delay damages” motion which resulted in a judgment in the total amount of $628,790.

TRAIN DERAILMENTS

For more than 25 years, Williams Cuker Berezofsky has represented citizens and businesses affected by chemical and oil train derailments, explosions or spills.

We are currently representing over a thousand residents and first responders affected by a train derailment which released 25,000 gallons of vinyl chloride into the environment in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

It is an especially pressing– and growing– threat in the Philadelphia area, where the shipment of toxic materials has increased ten-fold in the last seven years (according to “Is Philly doing enough to reduce the risk of a deadly oil-train derailment,” a 2015 article in the Philadelphia City Paper), and where rail routes cut through some of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Each oil train is capable of carrying up to 3.6 million gallons of crude, and the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia is processing increasing amounts of oil from North Dakota’s booming Bakken Shale oil wells. Increasing the risk is a faulty infrastructure of aging railcars, tracks and facilities.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE NEAR A SPILL, LEAK OR EXPLOSION

  • Call 911 and alert the authorities if they are not already on the scene.
  • Leave immediately, taking family and pets to an area away from the spill and beyond the smell of fumes. Stay a safe distance from the spill and avoid all contact with the oil.
  • Alert your neighbors to take precautions, with special attention to assisting the elderly and small children.
  • If you can, take photos from a safe distance.
  • For homeowners with wells, do not drink or use water from the well for any reason, and do not eat vegetables grown in your yard until a complete and independent evaluation has been performed.
  • Stay tuned to local media for further precautions and updates.
  • Do not return to the area until authorities have given full clearance to do so.
  • Call our offices to learn your rights.

To set up a free consultation with a Pennsylvania environmental toxic tort lawyer at Williams Cuker Berezofsky call 215-557-0099 or 856-667-0500, or contact us online.