The cities of Rialto and Colton and Emhart Industries have agreed to pay a total of $50 million to clean up a Superfund site in Rialto where perchlorate and other solvents have contaminated the water supply, according to ABC News.
The site is on the 160-acre property of BF Goodrich, which produces munitions, rocket motors, and fireworks. Emhart will spend an estimated $43 million over the next 30 years and the cities of Rialto and Colton will each pay approximately $4 million over the same time period.
Environmental Concerns Are Sometimes Handled Through Courts
While we have several state and federal agencies in charge of environmental protection, any agency is only as strong as its ability to enforce its regulations. In many cases, this means involving the legal system to force offenders to clean up sites that are contaminated.
When a site has been examined and found to be contaminated with chemicals or other substances that cause sickness or injury, it is very important that the business or entity that contaminated the site be held accountable for the damages caused. While the system of environmental agencies may force the businesses or individuals to clean up these sites, they rarely become involved in handling the payment of damages to those injured by the contamination. For that, victims must turn to a different aspect of the legal system—the tort liability law system.
Liability is Handled in Civil Court
Under the law, victims who have sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence or deliberate acts are eligible to receive compensation from that individual or business. However, in order to collect those damages, the victims must file lawsuits in civil court enumerating the ways in which the individual or business was negligent. A judge or jury will hear the case and decide on the amount of damages the victim is owed based on the negligence they perceive on the part of the defendant.
Of course, not all civil cases go to trial. In fact, most personal injury or wrongful death cases are settled outside of court between the parties. It is often far less expensive for the defendant to settle the case than to proceed to trial and risk a much larger verdict. It is also often better for the plaintiff to accept a certain verdict than to risk going to trial and having the jury find for the defendant.
In the case of environmental contamination, the offending parties often agree to clean up the site but do not make provision for anyone who has been injured. It is up to the individual victims to file lawsuits based on their injuries. For this, it is usually wise to consult a personal injury attorney with experience in suing large corporations or companies.
A personal injury lawyer can help the victims of environmental contamination and toxic chemical exposure to recover damages for any physical or emotional injuries they have sustained, including medical bills and pain and suffering.