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United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
March 9, 2021, Decided; March 10, 2021, Filed
[*387] HILLMAN, District Judge
In this putative class action, Plaintiffs1 assert claims against Defendants for damages arising from Defendants' alleged contamination of the municipal water supply in National Park, New Jersey with poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances ("PFAS"), particularly perflouoronaonanoic acid ("PFNA") and perfluorooctanoic acid ("PFOA"). Presently before the Court are the motions of Defendants to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims. For the reasons [**2] expressed below, Defendants' motions will be granted on one issue, but denied in all other respects.
Plaintiffs' amended complaint (Docket No. 6) claims that Defendants, Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC and its predecessor Solvay Solexis, Inc., and Arkema, Inc., discharged or were responsible for contamination of PFAS, particularly PFNA and PFOA, into the air, water and groundwater from their facility in West Deptford, New Jersey.2 Plaintiffs claim that over time, widespread PFNA and PFOA contamination has been discovered in the potable well water of residents in southern New Jersey who reside near this facility, as well as in municipal water wells, such as Plaintiffs' municipal water in National Park, at levels that threaten the health of those exposed and which create a public and private nuisance. Plaintiffs claim that these chemicals are persistent in the environment, hazardous, and are not known to ever break down in water, soil, air, or the human body.
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants' improper disposal consisted, in part, of dumping the PFNA and other PFAS into the sewer system — a process which Defendants knew or should have known would result in the discharge of the [**3] PFNA and other PFAS into the environment. Plaintiffs further claim that Defendants also discharged these chemicals directly into the environment, where they are subject to atmospheric dispersion and eventual deposition associated with the prevailing wind patterns. This dispersion and deposition results in human exposure both on-site and off-site of the plant. More specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants improperly disposed of PFNA, PFOA and other PFAS on the actual plant site, contaminating the groundwater immediately beneath [*388] the plant, which is the source of the water used by the National Park Water Department for its drinking water, and that the PFNA used and discharged at the plant by Defendants from 1988 to 2010 have been detected in high concentrations in the drinking water for National Park.
Plaintiffs' amended complaint relates that PFNA and other PFAS are associated with increased risk in humans of testicular cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, pancreatic and ovarian cancer, as well as thyroid disease, high cholesterol, high uric acid levels, elevated liver enzymes, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as other conditions. [**4] Exposure may result in developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, liver damage, and various immunological effects. PFNA and other PFAS persist and bioaccumulate in humans, and as a result, comparatively low exposures such as those suffered by Plaintiffs may result in large body burdens persisting for years. Plaintiffs claim that there is a causal link between exposure to PFNA, and other PFAS, and subclinical or subcellular injury and serious latent human disease.
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524 F. Supp. 3d 381 *; 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44746 **; 2021 WL 912850
KENNETH SEVERA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. SOLVAY SPECIALTY POLYMERS USA, LLC, et al., Defendants.
contamination, public nuisance, Defendants', private nuisance, plaintiff's claim, motion to dismiss, water supply, drink water, discharged, plant, trespass, municipal water, amended complaint, groundwater, exposure, injuries, nuisance, cause of action, proximate cause, special injury, allegations, residents, punitive damages, damages, persist, pleaded, contaminated water, general public, chemicals, remote
Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Class Action Fairness Act, Constitutional Law, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Amount in Controversy, Diversity Jurisdiction, Amount in Controversy, Determination, Removal, Specific Cases Removed, Diversity of Citizenship, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Pleading & Practice, Motion Practice, Content & Form, Summary Judgment, Motions for Summary Judgment, Notice Requirement, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Justiciability, Standing, Burdens of Proof, Case or Controversy, Elements, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Injury in Fact, Common Law, Trials, Jury Trials, Province of Court & Jury, Torts, Elements, Causation, Causation in Fact, Concurrent Causation, Proof, Evidence, Real Property Law, Torts, Nuisance, Types of Nuisances, Public Nuisances, Prerequisites for Class Action, Adequacy of Representation, Premises & Property Liability, Lessees & Lessors, Lessor & Lessee Nuisance Liability, Remedies, Summary Abatement, Private Nuisances, Trespass to Real Property, Trespass to Real Property, Strict Liability, Abnormally Dangerous Activities, Factors in Determining Abnormal Danger, Duty, Foreseeability of Harm