Federal Appellate Court Decision In Groundwater Contamination Case

On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which is the appellate court for federal district courts in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, issued a decision in the case of Joseph Adinolfe et al. v. United Technologies Corporation, a toxic tort case in which hundreds of property owners in a residential area of Palm Beach County, Florida sued an aerospace company for damages resulting from purported groundwater contamination. In the case, the plaintiffs alleged that one plaintiff had developed cancer as a result of exposure to contamination in drinking water wells and that the remaining plaintiffs had suffered diminution in the value of their property.  In reversing the district court’s early dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaints, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in requiring that each individual plaintiff plead in the complaint that he tested for contaminants on his property.  In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that, under Florida law, the plaintiffs were able to state a claim for property diminution without alleging that contamination on their property exceeded the applicable regulatory standard. Finally, the Eleventh Circuit’s decision contains a discussion regarding the use and timing of early case management orders, referred to as Lone Pine orders, and the decision is likely to influence lower courts’ future management of toxic tort cases.

For more information about the decision or about groundwater contamination or the defense of toxic tort cases, please contact Andy Thompson.  For a copy of the decision, click here.

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