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IT’S OFFICIAL: COURT APPROVES $34 MILLION SETTLEMENT IN BENNINGTON PFOA CONTAMINATION CASE

On April 18th, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford approved the $34 million settlement agreement that the complainants and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation reached last November.

The court’s approval means Bennington-area residents who sued a multinational plastics company for contaminating their soil and water will receive financial compensation and medical monitoring. The final approval came three weeks before the class-action suit’s sixth anniversary.

Now that the settlement agreement has cleared the court, the plaintiff’s attorney, Emily Joselson, of Langrock Sperry & Wool, told VTDigger she is hoping approved claims could be paid starting in May and medical monitoring can begin this fall. 

The settlement calls for Saint-Gobain to pay $26.2 million to eligible property owners affected by PFOA contamination. PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used to coat fiberglass fabrics at its shuttered factories in Bennington and North Bennington.

The French multinational will also spend up to $6 million to screen for certain diseases among residents adversely exposed to PFOA, a variant of the PFAS group of chemicals that has been linked to harmful health outcomes. The rest of the money would cover a portion of the attorneys’ fees.

The French multinational will also spend up to $6 million to screen for certain diseases among residents adversely exposed to PFOA, a variant of the PFAS group of chemicals that has been linked to harmful health outcomes. The rest of the money would cover a portion of the attorneys’ fees.

“I’m delighted the settlement has been approved so this years-long saga is over”, said Lora Block, whose home is in the PFOA contamination zone, an area of more than 2300 properties as identified by the state. “The lawyers who fought for those of us with contaminated water did a terrific job over all these years, so I’m very thankful to them. I’m glad we came to a settlement instead of having to fight in court, which would have taken many more years and could have ended badly if we’d lost.”

Attorney Joselson said the settlement “provides significant money compensation to the owners of the approximately 2,365 residential properties in Bennington and North Bennington contaminated with PFOA … and for the first time in Vermont, the settlement also establishes a 15-year medical monitoring program, to be paid by Saint-Gobain.”

The medical monitoring program, which will continue for up to 15 years, was sought by the plaintiff attorneys to monitor for diseases associated through studies of PFOA exposure, including kidney, testicular and other cancers, ulcerative colitis, thyroid diseases, pregnancy-included hypertension and high cholesterol. The program will be supervised by a court-approved administrator, Edgar Gentle III and will provide testing and monitoring for certain medical conditions and will be based at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center using local physicians.

Attorneys said those who have yet to file a claim but believe they might qualify should apply online at the website: www.benningtonvtclassaction.com Claims can be filed through August 22, according to the approval order. A free blood test for PFOA levels can be obtained through the medical monitoring program.

To read more about the court’s approval from Tiffany Tan, of the Vermont Digger:

To read more about the reactions from the plaintiffs and the attorneys who worked on the case from Jim Therrien, of the Bennington Banner: https://www.benningtonbanner.com/local-news/residents-attorneys-react-to-pfoa-suit-settlement/article_6476346a-c00a-11ec-9fb4-9bb0295c8a64.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share