On July 21, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law important New York legislation extending the statute of limitations in cases involving exposure to toxic wastes within the state. As has been widely reported, the new law is a reaction to a number of toxic issues, including the contamination of drinking water in Hoosick Falls in 2015. Experts note the new law also affects residents in Petersburgh, where a separate chemical contamination in drinking water was also found.
Loosening of Applicable Statutes of Limitation
Under the new law, plaintiffs will ordinarily have additional time to file claims associated with any site designated as a “Superfund” site – land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment. The new law provides that toxic injury claims must be filed within (a) three years following discovery of the condition or injury caused by the exposure, or (b) three years following the naming of the relevant site as a Superfund site, whichever is later. Under prior law, claims had to be filed within three years of discovering the condition or injury (this remains the case where the area where the exposure occurred is not named a Superfund site).
More Than One Thousand Superfund Sites Around the Country: Many in New York State
There are currently more than 1,300 Superfund sites in the U.S. (see this interactive map for locations of Superfund sites around the country). The first, and most “infamous” such Superfund site, was Love Canal – a neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York – where Hooker Chemical Company buried more than 20,000 tons of toxic waste between 1942 and 1953. According to one news story, Love Canal was still emitting poisons 35 years after initial discovery of the problems. Health officials in and around Love Canal saw significant uptick in the number of toxic-related illnesses, miscarriages, birth defects, and death among that area’s residents.
Hoosick Falls Designated Superfund Site
Governor Cuomo designated the village of Hoosick Falls as a state Superfund site in January, 2016. With the official designation and the new statute of limitations law, toxic waste victims will have additional time to file claims.
New Law Enjoys Bipartisan Support
The new law enjoys support from both Republicans and Democrats, and passed by easy margins in both state legislative houses. Liz Moran, water & natural resources associate for Environmental Advocates of New York, applauded the new law:
The signing of this bill into law is not only a huge moral and legal victory for Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh residents, but an important step in holding polluters accountable. For too long, when crises like this occurred, residents were left reeling from the public health and economic consequences, while those responsible were allowed to slink away.
Toxic Injury Claims Can Produce Significant Damage Awards
Successful toxic injury claims can result in significant cash settlements or jury verdicts. But, the claims are quite complex and ordinarily require the assistance of skilled legal counsel. Even with the extension of the statute of limitations, time is still a precious commodity. If you wait too long to retain counsel, your claim can be lost forever. The law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has the experience and resources to help you establish your claim and negotiate the best possible settlement. We also have the skill and tenacity required to take your case to trial if necessary. As one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district, we have been representing clients for more than 125 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 663-6015 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.