A group of Wainscott citizens are suing East Hampton Town and manufacturers of contaminants like PFOA and PFOS because their water wells are polluted — but the case is being heard in a South Carolina courtroom.
The defendants didn’t request the change of venue because they feared not getting a fair trial.
“It was procedural,” said Daniel Osborn, a Southampton attorney who filed the class action suit. “There are hundreds of similar cases across the country now.”
Combining the cases will allow for overlapping information to be collected in a single court procedure rather than have the same testimony repeated hundreds of times over. One drawback, Osborn said, “it’s going to take a couple of years” to gather the info.
Judge Richard Gergel, presiding over the proceeding, had scheduled September 6 as a “science day” for all parties involved to avail themselves of experts selected by both sides to help the judge educate himself regarding the chemicals. The meeting was canceled because of weather warnings regarding Hurricane Dorian, and has been rescheduled for October 4.
Osborn said there are indications that East Hampton Town will settle with the Wainscott litigants. The town has also filed a suit against the manufacturing companies whose products may have been used at the nearby airport and industrial park that contained the chemicals in question.
Osborn said, in response to a request from the town, he is gathering and forwarding information. So far, there are about 520 properties in the affected area, with 17 tested with 70 parts per trillion or more. Forty-six properties have tested above 10 ppt, 257 had no detection, and 270 have connected to public water mains brought in to deal with the contamination issue.