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Environmental Litigation Explained

Environmental Litigation Explained

Sometimes severe health problems can afflict you or a loved one due to exposure to harsh chemicals or toxicities in water, building materials, air or other environmental factors. The exposure may have occurred several decades ago, resulting in life-threatening disorders or illnesses like cancer.

When the person experiencing these medical issues believes an environmental element is to blame, it may be the negligence of another party that caused their exposure. This may result in environmental litigation.

What Is Environmental Litigation?

Environmental litigation is legal action concerning local, state and federal environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Businesses and individuals dealing with environmental factors like hazardous waste or pesticides must abide by certain laws in order to keep employees and the general public safe. There are several reasons why an environmental claim may be brought forth, including:

  • A manufacturer creates and releases a toxic product
  • A business uses illegal practices or toxic products in its operations, often to increase profits despite the potential to harm others
  • Toxicity of a substance people are exposed to is known, yet the organization regulating the substance or exposing people to it is slow to take action

Environmental Litigation ExplainedYou may have heard about the connection between asbestos, a mineral used in insulating materials and other building products, and mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer. Environmental litigation against companies that have exposed their workers to asbestos in industries like mining, construction and insulation have resulted in victories for victims who have developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure.

Another well-known recent environmental disaster that has resulted in legal action is the BP Oil Spill of 2010. These types of cases are intensive and require thorough research, but compensation helps victims and can prevent businesses from committing future offenses. Other types of environmental litigation may involve:

  • Environmental rulemaking
  • Environmental permits and enforcement
  • Damage to or improper use of natural resources and land
  • Property contamination
  • Water and air pollution

Defendants in environmental litigation cases may range from federal employees to business owners. Sometimes federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, may be the party a claim is brought against.

Environmental Litigation in Action

One high-profile recent case involving environmental litigation is the Flint water crisis. In 2014, city water testers discovered that the water supply in Flint, Michigan, contained fecal coliform bacteria, which indicated E. coli and other dangerous organisms may have contaminated the water. Despite these dangers, residents were told by city officials that they could continue safely drinking tap water, after pipes were flushed and chlorine was added to the water.

Despite the option to move to a safer water supply, city officials declined to switch in order to keep water rates down. In 2015, children started developing rashes and mysterious illnesses. The same year, a build-up of a cancer-causing byproduct, as well as dangerous levels of lead, were found in the water. A lawsuit was filed that summer against the city but was dismissed in September 2015. Numerous studies confirmed high levels of lead in the drinking water. In November 2015, Flint residents filed a class action lawsuit against state and city officials.

Since then, another class action lawsuit was filed, and criminal charges against state workers were brought forth. A Legionnaires’ outbreak has killed at least 12 people during the water crisis. What health issues continue to emerge due to the local and state governments’ negligence in the Flint water supply are unknown, but legal action involving this environmental disaster may very well continue into several decades from now.

Environmental Litigation ExplainedComplexities of Environmental Litigation

Because health issues due to environmental factors may not surface until many years after exposure to toxicity, environmental litigation requires extensive research to prove toxic exposure due to negligence caused problems. Environmental litigation requires:

  • A research team that can investigate factors dating up to several decades back
  • Scientific experts who are knowledgeable in specific areas
  • Significant time and resources to prove a case

Businesses, governments and other powerful entities often have connections to lobbyists and high-profile supporters who can help protect them even when they’re doing harm. When environmental factors cause illnesses, long-term disabilities or even death, justice must be fought for.

What to Do If You Have an Illness You Believe Is Connected to Environmental Toxicity

When mysterious illnesses or those with questionable causes occur, environmental factors may be to blame. Keeping organized medical records is always helpful to a case.

You should consult with a Birmingham environmental litigation attorney as soon as possible, as well. Your case may be similar to others and may help to strengthen a lawsuit against an offending party. Not only do you deserve justice and compensation for your suffering, but an environmental lawsuit can also help to protect others in the future.

Tennis Star Wins Slip and Fall Lawsuit Against USTA

Tennis Star Wins Slip and Fall Lawsuit Against USTA

Just about everyone has slipped and fallen at some point in their lives. When you do so at work and it causes you to never perform at the same level, that’s a slip and fall that may result in a serious lawsuit. One such case recently ruled in favor of Canadian professional tennis athlete Eugenie Bouchard, who claimed a slippery locker room fall that resulted in a serious personal injury has had significant effects on her tennis career.

In February 2018, a U.S. district court in New York ruled that the United States Tennis Association (USTA) was liable for a disastrous slip and fall accident Bouchard experienced in 2015. The accident forced her to retire from the U.S. Open that same year. Her career-high rank of 5th in the world in 2014 has fallen to 116th today.

Tennis Star Wins Slip and Fall Lawsuit Against USTAHow Bouchard’s Accident Happened

During the September 2015 U.S. Open, the now-24-year-old Bouchard alleges she walked into a physiotherapy area of the National Tennis Center’s locker room to take an ice bath, wearing flip-flops, shorts and a sports bra. She slipped on a slippery substance, causing her to fall and crack her head.

The substance, which was a chemical cleaning spray, covered her back and caused her to scream out, “Oh my god, it burns!”, according to Bouchard’s testimony. The incident resulted in a concussion that forced Bouchard to withdraw from the tennis tournament, even though she was still active in both the singles and doubles brackets.

The lawsuit also alleged that the injury resulted in problems in subsequent tournaments. After experiencing dizziness shortly after withdrawing from the U.S. Open, she also retired from a match in progress at the China Open in Beijing, her first match since her injury.

How Bouchard Argued that the USTA Was Negligent

Bouchard alleged that because the USTA applied the slippery, chemical-filled cleaning spray in a dimly lit room, the organization put others like herself in danger. Despite the USTA pushing back that Bouchard should not have entered the training room without a trainer, and that she should have known that the room would be cleaned at that time of night, the burden of negligence was placed on the USTA.

While the USTA stated that the spray was only applied in the training room after management had believed all other parties had left, jurors were presented with evidence that there was nothing in the players’ handbook that stipulated players could only enter the training room at a certain time, or that they needed to be with a trainer upon doing so.

Tennis Star Wins Slip and Fall Lawsuit Against USTAWhat This Slip and Fall Settlement Means for Other Victims

Slip and fall accidents can happen in a variety of places: at work, at a sporting event, while shopping, or at any other public place. If you experience a slip and fall that results in serious personal injury, here are some signs negligence is to blame.

There was no warning that a slippery substance was on the ground.

If a venue owner applies something that could cause a slip and fall accident, visitors to that area should be adequately warned with clear signage, or the slippery area should be blocked off completely.

A dirty area that should have been cleaned was not.

Sometimes slip and fall accidents happen right after a spill, and the fall is truly an accident because venue managers were not aware of the danger. However, if someone tells a venue manager about a potential hazard, and there is a delay in cleaning it up, this may be considered negligence. As well, there is a responsibility venue managers hold that they keep all visitors safe, and that includes proactively monitoring and removing hazards.

The property manager should have prevented the accident.

If there is an unmaintained portion of the property that had a direct impact on causing the slip and fall accident, that negligence falls on the property owner. For example, a leak in the ceiling that goes unfixed and causes a pile-up of water is due to the property owner’s neglect.

How Are Settlements in Slip and Fall Accidents Determined?

While the settlement amount in the Bouchard case is unspecified, there are many factors that can make slip and fall accidents like hers significant. These include:

  • Medical bills from injuries
  • Financial loss due to time missed off work
  • Impact the fall has on future work performance

If you have been in a slip and fall accident and believe negligence is to blame, please contact the Birmingham personal injury attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation.

Pittman Dutton and Hellums

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