The first two years of the Trump administration have proven to be tumultuous, and the area of environmental regulation is no different, as the administration has sought to rollback or overturn over fifty environmental rules over the course of the first eleven months of the administration. This rollback has heightened the need for environmental class actions arising out of toxic exposures to both protect communities from polluters and act as a deterrent, encouraging companies to take adequate measures to avoid polluting their communities. In considering the current administration’s apparent goal of undermining institutional environmental protections for communities, and in considering the real benefits our environmental class actions have had for communities which otherwise would have been left with no real means of redressing pollution, it is apparent that trial lawyers must step into the void to protect our communities from polluters through the class action device.
In order to appropriately prosecute these cases it is important to keep in mind the types of damages which lend themselves to class treatment on behalf of communities and municipalities, including claims for damages arising out of the diminution of property values, medical monitoring expenses and loss of the quality of life. Municipalities or other public entities may also pursue claims arising out of economic costs incurred in remediating pollution. While each of these claims may be viable based on your jurisdiction, it is extremely important to properly investigate a case before filing, and draft the complaint to maximize the chances of being able to pursue claims as a class.
Diminution of Property Value
A claim alleging damages arising out of the diminution of property value “the difference between the value of the land before the harm and the value after the harm, or at [plaintiff’s] election in an appropriate case, the cost of restoration that has been or may be reasonably incurred.” The claim of diminution of property value recognizes that stigma which attaches to property once it is discovered that the property is contaminated.
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