El Paso County Contaminated Water FAQ
Q: What happened to the drinking water supply in the Security, Widefield, and Fountain area?
A: Local groundwater in some parts of El Paso County has been contaminated with harmful chemicals, called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). The contamination has been associated with foam used to extinguish fires during trainings on a local Air Force base and other fire suppressant purposes.
Q: What are PFCs?
A: PFCs are substances often used in manufacturing and industrial settings for their useful properties, including fire resistance and oil, stain, grease and water repellency.
Q: What kinds of side effects can PFCs cause?
A: PFCs have been linked to various diseases, such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy induced hypertension, high cholesterol and other ailments. These injuries can arise months or years after exposure.
Q: Has a lawsuit been filed and how long will this take?
A: Yes. McDivitt Law Firm, along with the Napoli Shkolnik Law Firm of New York, has brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of residents affected by the water contamination. At this juncture, it’s impossible to predict with certainty how long the litigation will take.
Q: Will this cost me any money up front or out of pocket?
A: No. You will never have to pay our law firms any money up front, nor any money out of your own pocket, even after the cases are resolved! We will front the money for your case expenses, and we only receive our contingency fee from a settlement or verdict at trial. If there is a recovery either by a settlement or verdict, we are paid a percentage of your settlement plus reimbursement of expenses. If we don’t get compensation for you for your damages, you will not owe us any money for fees or costs. You will owe nothing!
Q: Is this a class action?
A: Yes this is a “class action” lawsuit.
Q: Why a class action?
A: Although the injuries and damages you suffer from this contamination may be of a different magnitude compared to others, the large number of persons affected make the handling of these cases in the Court System more efficient in order to get the best outcome for you. Also, there are other factors which make the claims similar, such as: the same geographical area affected and the same general population group affected which is the Fountain Creek Watershed.
Q: What is a class action?
A: It is an action in which representative plaintiffs, (the persons filing a claim,) sue on behalf of a class of plaintiffs who have been similarly affected and reside, as in this case, in the same general geographic area.
Q: Who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit?
A: There are currently nine plaintiffs who represent all members of this class. There are three types of class members: 1. Residents using private wells; 2. Residents using public wells; and 3. People who own a home or land in the affected areas.
Q: Can I join the suit?
A: Yes, when you sign up with our firm you will be included in the class. These nine plaintiffs represent the interests of the entire class, which will include you when you retain our firm.
Q: Where was the lawsuit filed?
A: The suit was filed in the Federal District Court of Colorado.
Q: Why file now?
A: Because the severity of the harm to the class members has recently become more apparent, and filing now will give us the ability to hold the responsible parties accountable sooner. Waiting until later may not be helpful to our case.
Q: Who are the defendants?
A: Multiple manufacturers who produced and sold Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), or fire-fighting foam which contains the chemicals called PFCs. The defendants named in the lawsuit are: The 3M Corporation; The Ansul Company; Angus Fire National Foam; Buckeye Fire Protection Co. and Chemguard. The defendants in the case may change as we continue our investigation.
Q: What is AFFF?
A: Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is a fire-fighting foam containing perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). The foam is mixed with water and then sprayed to extinguish fires including petroleum fires. This results in a very toxic chemical combination which seeps into the groundwater wells and then persists. This chemical combination in the water will require expensive and extensive remediation efforts to make the wells safe for household needs and human consumption.
Q: What has been alleged in the complaint?
A: The lawsuit alleges that the defendants produced a bad or defective product when they knew of other alternatives that were better suited to protect the health of the community. The suit also alleges that the companies failed to warn the users of these products as to the risk of ground water contamination. The PFCs have caused health problems, including many types of cancer. Many of these have long term consequences, some of which will not be known for many years. In addition, property values in the affected area have been reduced.
Q: What does the lawsuit ask for?
A: We believe that our clients should be compensated for general and special damages caused by this contaminated water including: past, present and future medical expenses; physical and mental impairment; pain and suffering; loss of property value; remediation expenses; and “medical monitoring.” Medical monitoring is essentially a set-aside amount of money which we claim should be furnished by the defendants, to help pay for our client’s future medical bills related to exposure to PFCs.
Q: I’m afraid to drink my water. Is it safe?
A: Please check with your district water supplier about the safety of your drinking water.