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Environmental Threats

Hausfeld LLP represents communities, families, and workers, both here and abroad, who have been exposed to hazardous chemicals in neighborhoods, workplaces, or in food and water supplies. These toxic exposures can result from silent underground leaking or from catastrophic events such as a refinery explosion. In either case, the health of community members is often at risk. Additionally, these environmental hazards can result in economic harm such as diminution of property values, remediation costs, or nuisance damages.

Litigating the environmental problems of today requires expertise in complex scientific issues and medical causation. Hausfeld LLP lawyers have worked closely with leading independent scientists including environmental health physicians, toxicologists, and epidemiologists in preparing and trying environmental health threat cases. Our highly skilled attorneys have prevailed in matters involving lead poisoning, chemical poisoning, contamination form genetically modified crops, and air and groundwater pollution.

Hausfeld LLP's successes have also led to our work on behalf of foreign plaintiffs in public health litigation. Hausfeld LLP is currently working on international environmental litigation including chemical contamination in Bhopal; slicosis claims in South Africa, and property contamination claims in Barbados.

Cases and Current Investigations

» Bhopal, India - Union Carbide Disaster
» Genetically-Engineered Wheat Litigation
» South African Silicosis

Successes

- Exxon Valdez: In re The Exxon Valdez Litigation, No. A89-095 Civ. (D. Ak.)

Michael Hausfeld was selected from dozens o law firms around the country by federal and state judges in Alaska to serve as co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the largest environmental case in United States history that resulted in a jury verdict of more than $5 billion (reversed and remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court for revised punitive damages award; further proceedings pending).

- Starlink Corn Contamination: In re StarLink Corn Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1403 (N.D. Ill.).

Richard S. Lewis was co-lead counsel and successfully represented U.S. corn farmers in a national class action against Aventis CropScience USA Holding and Garst Seed Company, the manufacturer and primary distributor of StarLink corn seeds. StarLink is a genetically modified corn variety that the United States government permitted for sale as animal feed and for industrial purposes, but never approved for human consumption. However, StarLink was found in corn products sole in grocery stores across the country and was traced to widespread contamination of the U.S. commodity cron supply. The settlement, which provided more than $110 million for U.S. corn farmers was the first successful resolution of tort claims brought by farmers against the manufacturers of genetically modified seeds.

- Fairfax Oil Spill: Stockbridge Community Ass'n v. Star Enterprise, Case No. (Law) 108514, (Cir. Ct. Fairfax County, VA)

Michael D. Hausfeld secured a real estate protection program from oil companies for damages caused by leaking storage tanks in the Mantua section of Fairfax, Virginia. Star Enterprise, a Texaco affiliate, paid $50 million to settle medical and other damage claims made by about 180 families who alleged that their neighborhood was made almost uninhabitable by an underground oil lead from a Fairfax County tank farm. The company also agreed to compensate as many as 450 families in the Mantua and Stockbridge neighborhoods for he dramatic dip in the value of their homes since the leak was discovered up to $150 million.

- Norfolk Lead Smelter Litigation: Hunter v. Abex Corp. (Cir. Ct. Norfolk, VA)

Hausfeld LLP attorneys recovered monetary damages for 82 children, teenagers and young adults who suffered lead poisoning caused by exposure to lead wastes from a lead smelter in their low-income neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia.

- Lipari Landfill: Harman v. Rohm & Haas Co., Inc. (Gloucester County, New Jersey)

The Lipari Landfill in Pitman, NJ was number one on the EPA's Superfund list of toxic waste sites in the 1970s. Hausfeld LLP lawyers obtained a multi-million dollar medical monitoring fund on behalf of hundreds of residents who lived and played near the landfill site in New Jersey.

- Barbados Jet Fuel Spill Case

Shell Oil operated a seven-mile long aviation fuel pipeline running from the Oistins depot across the fertile farmlands of Barbados to the Grantley Adams Airport for more than 25 years. The pipeline first burst in 1995 and then again in 2003 with several smaller leaks in between. It is estimated that 300,000 gallons of jet fuel have leaked from the pipeline into the land and groundwater. Farmers have been losing crops and revenue for numerous years due to the presence of hydrocarbons in the irrigated water and a lack of adequate water supplies as a result of shutting down several wells contaminated by oil. Hausfeld LLP attorneys, Rich Lewis and Jamie Pizzirusso, negotiated and successfully resolved the claims of twenty five farmers for property damage and business losses in 2011.

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