Lawsuit Filed In Tallahassee Over Wastewater Leak
A lawsuit has been filed against the State of Florida after a Piney Point wastewater leak that required the evacuation of hundreds of residents after 215 million gallons of wastewater poured into Tampa Bay. Conservation groups say that the government and Florida’s environmental regulators ignored warning signs and allowed the leak to happen. Florida’s Environmental Protection Agency is named in a lawsuit alongside two private companies that contributed negligence according to the plaintiffs.
The suit seeks the permanent closure of the site. Attorneys representing residents say that their fear is that the agencies responsible for the spill will provide the minimum amount of effort to remedy the environmental damage.
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection released a statement saying that they plan to hold accountable all those involved in the environmental disaster but did not address the allegations made specifically concerning the DEP.
Allegations against Florida’s DEP
The state said that they would oversee the closure of the site, but the plaintiffs contend that it was the state’s negligence that allowed the spill to occur in the first place. To be sure, it would be quite difficult to hold the DEP accountable for their negligence. In most cases, a negligence action brought against the state requires that a state employee or actor do something specific that causes injury to another person. It is nearly impossible to hold the state accountable for something they did not do unless they had fair warning prior to the incident.
In actions against the state, the plaintiff must show that the state had a duty of care to prevent the spill from occurring in the first place. Conservation groups say that they had been raising the alarm about conditions at the facility long before the spill occurred. Additionally, the plaintiffs can point to the Army Corps of Engineers who identified problems with the site as well.
After having been notified of the conditions of the site, one would imagine that the DEP would step in and do something about it. However, the DEP may be under no compulsion to do anything at all if it can be held to the same standards as other law enforcement agencies. Further, any action against the state, including actions filed by multiple parties could be capped at applicable limits.
Luckily for the residents, there are two private companies that they can sue who also contributed liability to the incident. These companies would be proximately liable for neglecting to ensure the same conditions of their property. Since wastewater was released into the nearby community, there are health concerns that must be considered.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Personal Injury Attorney
If your property has been damaged by a nearby industrial accident, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.