Hicks Thomas Scores Major Appellate Ruling in New York Water Contamination Lawsuit

NEW YORK – The Houston-based law firm Hicks Thomas LLP has won a significant appeals court ruling in favor of longtime client R.R. Street & Co. as part of an environmental lawsuit pending in New York.

Last week’s defense ruling was just the latest of several court victories that Hicks Thomas has won during the past 15 years for Naperville, Illinois-based R.R. Street, a leading manufacturer products for the dry cleaning industry.

In this latest case, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court ruled that the Suffolk County Water Authority waited too long to file claims of water contamination on 151 of 159 wells the agency contended were polluted by PCE, a chemical used in many industries, including dry cleaning.

“It’s a big victory in any case when you can eliminate the majority of liability without a trial,” says lead counsel and Hicks Thomas partner John B. Thomas.

“Because the water authority waited decades to sue, our strategy was to put the plaintiffs between a rock and a hard place,” Mr. Thomas says. “Either there was no injury because chemical levels didn’t reach the statutory requirement, or the authority sat on its rights and let the problem get worse.”

The water authority lawsuit, filed in 2010, included numerous defendants in addition to R.R. Street, including Dow Chemical Co. and other manufacturers of the dry cleaning solvent perchloroethylene.

Mr. Thomas says the New York appellate ruling has broader implications, illustrating the particular challenges plaintiffs face when attempting to make timely claims of environmental contamination. The case is Suffolk County Water Authority v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 24852/10, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.

For more information on Hicks Thomas’ win for R.R. Street, please contact Kit Frieden at 800-559-4534 or kit@androvett.com.