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  • Writer's pictureJust Well Law

Island News: Families Suing Over 2021 Jet Fuel Leak into Navy Drinking Water in Hawaii seek $225K to $1.25M

KITV: There's a significant trial happening, regarding the 2021 jet fuel leak into the Navy's water system in Hawaii, where injuried familes are suing the federal government. Plaintiffs' attorney Kristina Baehr of Just Well Law, has requested damages ranging from approximately $225,000 to $1.25 million per affected individual. The case, heard in federal court in Honolulu, involves military families seeking compensation for health issues resulting from toxic exposure to contaminated water.

One of the key plaintiffs, Nastasia Freeman, whose family experienced severe health problems including reactivated seizure disorders, is seeking substantial compensation. Austin, Texas, toxic tort attroney Kristina Baehr has outlined detailed claims for Freeman, including $400,000 for past pain and suffering, $200,000 for future pain, and additional amounts for mental anguish, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Freeman is among 17 "bellwether" plaintiffs representing over 7,500 affected individuals. The outcome of this trial is expected to guide future settlements and damage awards.

The government has admitted liability, acknowledging that the spill at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility breached its duty of care and caused compensable injuries. However, government attorneys contest the severity of exposure, suggesting it was too low to cause the alleged health effects such as seizures, asthma, and vestibular dysfunction.

The trial highlighted a series of operational errors leading to the spill, which saw 21,000 gallons of fuel initially leaked in May 2021 and an additional 20,000 gallons released in November 2021. The contamination has sparked significant concern, given the tanks' location above an aquifer supplying water to 400,000 Honolulu residents.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi's ruling is pending, with additional briefs expected by July. The judge expressed empathy for the plaintiffs, emphasizing the importance of their opportunity to voice their grievances.

This case underscores the complexities of legal accountability and the pursuit of justice for affected military families, with potential wide-reaching implications for future environmental litigation and governmental responsibility.


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