In July of 2010, an oil pipeline operated by Enbridge LP and related companies (Enbridge) ruptured, spilling almost 1 million gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The spill is the largest inland oil release in the history of the United States. Almost 10,000 properties were impacted by this massive oil spill.
My practice here at Hertz Schram PC focuses on class action environmental cases on behalf of the property owners and occupants whose rights are impacted by irresponsible corporate polluters. After receiving hundreds of calls from residents asking questions about their rights, my law partner, Patricia Stamler, and I filed a class action case seeking money damages for all class members who were damaged. I was appointed by the Court to serve as co-lead counsel on behalf of the class. After six full days of negotiations and multiple follow up meetings and phone conferences, we achieved a $6.25 million settlement on behalf of the class.
What are your rights in an environmental disaster?
The Right to Quietly Enjoy Property
You have the right to peacefully occupy your property. When a disaster like this happens, it infringes upon your right to quietly use and enjoy your home or business. You have the right not to have oil spilled on your land. You also have the right not to smell offensive and noxious odors or experience the noise pollution and traffic that result from the clean-up activities that take place for many months after a spill. In this case, the areas impacted the most included many quiet little towns in the Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties set along the beautiful river. This spill caused a lot of stress for these folks who had to experience the chaos of the spill, sometimes 24 hours a day for months on end. Residents also lost their right to canoe, fish and enjoy the river after the spill.
Damages Against Property Value
With such a large disaster it is very likely you will see an immediate decrease in the value of your property. If you are trying to sell your house, even if your house wasn't directly on the shore of the oil spill, who is going to want to buy your house with such a disruption? You have a right to make a claim in that kind of situation.
It was really rewarding to be able to represent these people and to hold Enbridge accountable. Contact me if you have any questions or are seeking counsel for an environmental disaster.