Contaminated Drinking Water

Clean drinking water is essential for survival. In the United States, it is easy to take it for granted. In some areas, however, water contamination has caused devastating illness and limited clean water resources. Populations in areas with high levels of chemical contamination like Flint, Michigan, have been advised not to drink or cook with the water coming out of their own taps.

Fresh water is one of earth’s most essential yet increasingly endangered resources. Our drinking water is increasingly threatened by contamination from chemicals such as lead, volatile organic compounds, perfluoroalkyl substances and other chemicals. Contaminated water can give you cancer and other serious diseases. It can make it impossible for you to sell your home. And it certainly can destroy your quality of life..

Cuker Law Firm is committed to helping victims of contaminated water receive compensation they are entitled to under the law. We fight for those who have suffered injury, sickness, or financial losses from water contamination.

Types of Water Contamination

Contaminants commonly found in drinking water include:

  • Petroleum-based compounds
  • Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)
  • Benzene
  • Lead, mercury, and other metals
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
  • Phenols
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa and other pathogens

The Limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act

Contrary to what many people think, the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”) does NOT keep your drinking water safe. Many toxic contaminant are not regulated by the Act; regulation of other chemicals is so riddled with loopholes as to endanger many people.

In Toms River, New Jersey the public drinking water supply was tainted with unregulated waste products from a plastics manufacturing process, including the Styrene Acrylonitrile Trimer. An intensive epidemiologic study showed that these compounds were associated with an Cancer Cluster of Childhood Leukemia which ultimately became the subject of a Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction book. Since the source of contaminated water was shut off, the rate of childhood leukemia among girls has dropped by 83%.

All over the country, drinking water has been found to be contaminated by perfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) most notably PFOA and PFOS. None of these are formally regulated under the SDWA; although EPA has set a “Preliminary Health Assessment Level” (“PHAL”) for PFOA and PFOS they are not enforceable under the SDWA; even worse, many other PFAS, such as PFHxS, which actually stays in the human body far longer than PFOA or PFOS, have no PHAL.

Last but perhaps even worse, EPA’s “regulation” of lead in drinking water under its “Lead and Copper Rule” is so inadequate as to be pathetic. Everyone agrees that there is NO safe level of lead in drinking water for young children. Yet EPA accepts lead levels greater than 15 parts per billion (ppb) in up to 10% of samples, and levels up to 14 ppb in 90% of samples. In other words, 100% of samples can have lead levels unsafe for children, yet EPA calls the water “safe” under the SDWA. These loopholes led directly to the environmental catastrophe in Flint Michigan.

Health Effects from Contaminated Water

Contaminated water can cause health effects ranging from skin rashes to cancer depending upon the nature of the contaminants and the type and duration of the exposure. You can be exposed to contaminated water not only through drinking, but also cooking, bathing, or breathing in vapors in the shower. The more toxic the chemical and the longer the exposure, the higher the risk for serious health problems. Researchers estimate that approximately 900,000 people are sickened by contaminated water each year.

Your Legal Rights

Because Government regulation is often either inadequate or nonexistent, and because even the best government regulations won’t protect you from a law-breaking polluter, the only way to be compensated for the harm caused by contaminated water is through a private lawsuit. Most states allow you to recover damages for loss of property value, harm to your quality of life, compensation for any illness you can prove was caused by the chemical, and the cost of medical testing necessary for early diagnosis of a cancer than can be caused by the chemical contaminant. But environmental cases can be incredibly difficult and complex, and you need a knowledgeable, experienced lawyer to represent you. Cuker Law Firm stands ready, willing, and able to help you.

Why Choose Cuker Law Firm

Toms RiverMark Cuker has been on the winning side of landmark toxic tort cases that resulted not only in significant financial recoveries for clients, but have established important legal precedents that have benefited individuals and communities across the country.

One of his well-known and most successful environmental cases made the national and international news.

Toms River, New Jersey was a case which achieved a resolution that helped many families live their lives safely, provide for their medical care, receive deserved compensation. News reports lauded the town’s fight and our collaborative success.

Both, Toms River and Flint were suspected industrial pollution that had been going on for years. Both had local governments saying “it’s not that bad” but then, upon seeing the science we amassed and analyzed with experts, realized it was not only bad but had life-threatening effects.

The case facts are recounted in the Pulitzer prize-winning book “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation” by Dan Fagin.

“I was honored to have served the residents of Toms River and continue to be in touch with families there to this day.”

Five-Star Rating *****

“The families affected by contamination in Toms River, New Jersey were represented by a group of fine lawyers led by Mark Cuker in their claims against three major companies.

I give him a 5-star rating for many reasons. The most important was his commitment to doing what was best for the children and their families. Thorough, professional, caring and dedicated through the whole process, he continues to lend his support and interest in the well-being of our community long after the case settled. This again assures one of his integrity and motivation.”

– Linda Gillick, mother of Michael and Chair, CACCCC and member of TEACH

WATCH: Toms River Case Video

Class Action Or Individual Lawsuit?

Class Action? Opt out and achieve a better result through an individual lawsuit? Class actions can be beneficial for some people, but knowing what’s right for you and your family is so important we encourage you to ask questions and learn the difference.

Our blog post “Why Class Actions Don’t Always Protect Toxic Exposure Victims” can help you. There are issues where the certification of a class action makes a difference, the timing, whether a “one size fits all” approach serves all families, and more.

A case affecting thousands of people in Pennsylvania demonstrates the difference. A class action settlement was reached by another law firm but our clients “opted out” so their individual situations would be taken into account. Factors including how long they lived in the area and drank the water, the number of residents per household, the ages of residents (children can be at greater risk for long term effects), the varying levels of contamination for each household or well, and the specific illnesses, conditions, or injuries they claim is a result of the toxic exposure.

It’s important to remember that even if there is a class action settlement, you can opt out and get individual representation that may better protect you. Contact us to learn which option is best for you.