The environment is everything that surrounds us, including the food we eat, the water we use and drink, and the air we breathe. It also includes the substances we come into contact with, such as chemicals, radiation, germs, and physical forces. Our relationship with the environment is intricate and occasionally hazardous. Laws and regulations governing environmental health are put in place to control and protect our environment.

As the production and use of hazardous chemicals continue to grow, the regulations and accountability of the companies that make them should grow. Hazardous chemicals are in the ambient air of workplaces, schools, communities, and in drinking water and food supplies. With that being said, chemical exposures have been linked to many recognized public health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and obesity. Socially disadvantaged groups and employees in industrial and agricultural contexts are exposed to chemicals at disproportionately higher levels. Additionally, vulnerable subpopulations, including kids, pregnant women, and those with long-term illnesses, are more at risk of exposure. A greater degree of care for life and the environment must be expected from these corporations.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is a toxic tort? 

A: A toxic tort is a legal claim for harm caused by exposure to a dangerous substance such as a pharmaceutical drug, pesticide, or chemical.

Q: When should I contact an environmental attorney?

A: If you believe an individual, business, or other entity is in violation of environmental law. An environmental attorney can assess a situation and decide whether or not legal action is necessary. A lawyer might also be aware of any class actions that have been brought up in relation to the breach.

Q: Do I need a lawyer for a class action lawsuit? 

A: Yes, if you are a lead plaintiff, you will need an attorney who is ready to start the class action process for you. If you have been contacted about potentially joining a class action lawsuit, it will be useful for you to contact an attorney to make sure it is the right action for you. 

Q: Are class action lawsuits civil lawsuits? 

A: Yes, a class action lawsuit is a civil lawsuit because it involves a dispute between two or more parties. 

Toxic Torts 

A toxic tort is a particular category of personal injury or property damage claim that arises from contact with harmful substances such as chemicals, pesticides, poisons, or medications. The most frequent toxic tort lawsuits are those in which the plaintiff claims that they were directly exposed to dangerous substances due to their employment or place of residence. Occupational toxic tort lawsuits, however, are more common than any other tort cases due to the fact industrial employees are more likely than customers or residents to experience long-term exposure to hazardous substances.

Following situations typically lead to toxic tort claims:

  • Occupational exposure - When poisons are exposed to industrial employees in high quantities for a brief time or at low levels for a long time. Examples of this form of hazardous tort action are claims based on asbestos and benzene exposure at home or work.
  • Pharmaceutical drugs - Sometimes, prescription medications have unforeseen adverse effects. The antidepressants Zoloft and Prozac, as well as the antacid Zantac, have all been the focus of recent toxic tort suits.
  • Exposure in the home - When residents of a home breathe or consume chemicals present, such as deadly mold that was left unchecked by the seller or landlord. 
  • Consumer products - When consumers utilize goods like insecticides or forever chemicals that unintentionally result in illness.

Cases involving environmental or toxic torts are extremely serious and challenging personal injury or property damage cases. Large corporations are typically involved in hazardous tort lawsuits, which can be intimidating and very challenging to pursue. However, The Cochran Firm's skilled environmental and toxic exposure lawyers can assist you at every stage to make sure you collect any compensation to which you may be entitled.

Who Can File An Environmental Lawsuit?

Anyone can file an environmental lawsuit in civil court. In most cases, there are two main types of lawsuits that can be brought against a company class action and individuals. Most class action suits begin when a number of injured parties are all filing individual lawsuits against the same defendant. Sometimes, though, even a single plaintiff can file suit and ask a judge to approve a class action complaint as long as there is reason to believe dozens of others suffered damages in the same way.

Class action: The majority of environmental lawsuits are filed as class actions after a person files a claim of harm from an environmental pollutant like asbestos. For instance, if you reside in an apartment complex that contains asbestos and experience negative effects, it's possible that other residents will want to join your lawsuit if they also suffer negative effects.

Individuals: Anyone who sustains property damage or bodily harm as a result of environmental conditions may be qualified to file a lawsuit against any party for environmental law violations. You may sue if you know that an environmental law is being broken, even if no one is personally harmed.

What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action is brought by people who are in a similar situation. The plaintiffs in an environmental class action were probably all injured or had similar property damage due to an environmental law violation. Grouping the individual lawsuits into a class action makes them more easily manageable by the courts by increasing efficiency and lowering litigation costs. This ideally helps victims obtain compensation in a more timely manner.

How Can My Attorney Help In A Class Action Lawsuit?

You will need to meet with a class action attorney to discuss your claim before you can begin or join a class action lawsuit. A complaint will be prepared and submitted on your behalf if your lawyer decides you have a strong case.

In a class action lawsuit, it's crucial to employ a skilled and knowledgeable attorney as they will represent the interests of all class members rather than just one. By filing a class action lawsuit, numerous people in the same situation can swiftly and fairly receive justice. However, it might be challenging to determine whether you are the single victim of a mistake or wrongdoing or one of many.

Contacting a knowledgeable class action attorney is the best method to determine if you have a single claim or whether it is in your best interests to seek a class action case.

Environmental Racism

Many believe that the environment is a neutral force of nature that does not support or disadvantage any particular population. However, the environment is vulnerable to human influences, just like everything else on Earth. Unfortunately, these influences frequently embrace the worst aspects of our society, such as racism and classism.

Communities around our country have endured environmental injustices for far too long, bearing the weight of hazardous pollution, suffering from underinvestment in key services and infrastructure, and experiencing disproportionate effects of climate change. 

Environmental racism is not a term we use every day, but that does not mean it should go unnoticed. Environmental racism is a term used to describe how minority group neighborhoods, which are predominately made up of people of color and those from low socioeconomic status, are burdened with an unfair share of risks, such as toxic waste facilities, landfills, and other sources of environmental pollutants, ultimately reducing the quality of life and is a severe problem going unchecked in The United States. 

The environmental justice scales consistently tip against the ability of people of color and the poor to live in a free and healthy environment. The residents of these areas do not have the same access to safe places for learning, working, and living that every other American citizen does.

In a 2018 study, emission particles were utilized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compare the environmental burden of pollution in various American areas. According to the study, the burden was 28% higher for People of Color and 35% higher for those who live in poverty overall. Black Americans, in particular, had a burden level that was 54% higher than the average for the population.

EPA And Environmental Justice

The EPA's goal is to provide an environment where all people, no matter what demographic they are a member of, can have equal access to the decision-making process and the same level of protection from environmental and health risks in order to ensure a healthy environment for living, learning, and working. 

All of the EPA's work is subject to its mission of environmental justice, which includes:

  • establishing guidelines
  • facilities required permitting
  • presenting grants
  • providing licenses
  • assessing the federal agencies' proposed actions

The EPA collaborates with all parties involved to solve issues and concerns related to the environment and public health in a productive and coordinated manner. The agency attempts to include environmental justice in all policies, programs, and activities that are coordinated by the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). By incorporating environmental justice into all programs, policies, and actions, the OEJ helps agencies safeguard the environment and public health in minority, low-income, tribal, and other vulnerable communities.

What Is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice, as defined by the EPA, is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

A Brief History Of Environmental Justice

Environmental justice history can be traced back to its roots during the civil rights and social justice events in the 1960s, from Latino farm workers in California organizing and fighting for workplace rights and health safety, all the way to when local residents in Harlem, New York City, banded together to oppose a sewage treatment facility.

By forming partnerships with other environmental and social justice organizations in the 1990s, the environmental justice movement went on to expand across the nation. The environmental justice movement gained formal government recognition in 1994 with the issuance of Executive Order 12898, which established environmental justice offices in the EPA, Department of Justice, and other federal agencies.

Environmental justice is currently expanding, changing, and being included in formal public policy. Numerous individuals now have a voice in their struggle against injustices in the areas of the environment, health, and society, thanks to the organizations that have grown out of this movement at all levels of society.

What is Product Liability And Defective Products? 

Product liability is the term used to describe the responsibility of any or all parties involved in the production of a defective product that brought harm to consumers. Unfortunately for the consumer, companies are shielded from consequences by product liability insurance in the event that a product results in harm to third parties. Claims, including design flaws, manufacturing flaws, strict responsibility, and inadequate warnings, are all covered by product liability insurance since they all have the potential to harm customers seriously or even result in wrongful death

These large corporations have protection, and so should you. In doing so, you will want an experienced attorney to guide you through the challenging legal process of suing a large organization. Due to the numerous phases involved in creating a product and the therefore huge number of users, product liability cases against large corporations can involve defendants and plaintiffs from a wide range of jurisdictions. Since claims typically have a very large number of parties involved from many jurisdictions, plaintiffs sometimes forum-shop in order to identify judges who would be sympathetic to their claims. 

When looking for a defective products lawyer, it can be difficult to choose from among the many options in your area. When you are considering what defective products lawyer you want to have to represent you, it is important to consider experience, client relations, resources, and results. 

That is why you need to seek help from our devoted team of attorneys at The Cochran Firm. At The Cochran Firm, we have access to a large database of expert witnesses who can testify that the particular product that hurt you was genuinely defective and/or dangerous. If you’re unsure of whether or not you have a claim, you can speak to one of our defective products lawyers at a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Contact The Cochran Firm today to get in contact with an attorney at any of our offices across the country, where we better serve innocent victims of negligence and misconduct. 

Chemical Exposure In Your Home

In the United States, most people spend most of their time indoors, making indoor environments a significant source of pollution exposure. As a result, while previous public health research concentrated on the effects of pollution outside, exposure in residential settings has recently received more attention.  

In addition to spending a lot of time indoors, many homeowners today are undertaking do-it-yourself home repair projects that involve tearing down walls and ceilings, ripping up floor tiles, and removing old plumbing. But in the process of renovating and decorating your old homes, you can unwittingly contaminate the air with dangerous asbestos fibers that can potentially cause mesothelioma

What Is Asbestos? 

Due to its durability and fire-retardant qualities, asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been utilized in a range of building materials and other items for decades. If exposed to the microscopic asbestos particles for an extended period of time, those who manufactured, installed, or demolished goods that included asbestos may, and in many cases did, acquire mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

If you’ve suffered from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, please contact The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We serve clients throughout the United States.

Avoiding Workplace Chemical Exposure

Strict regulations are upheld by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to safeguard workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals. Employers who have hazardous chemicals in the workplace are required by OSHA to mark those chemicals, as well as to give employees safety information and training on how to use them safely. The maximum amount of a particular chemical that employees may lawfully be exposed to is also regulated by OSHA. Employers are expected to assess potential workplace dangers and take precautions to ensure employee safety.

Being proactive in seeing potential risks and standing up for your own rights and safety at work is the most efficient strategy to prevent chemical exposure Workers and employers should both regularly evaluate risks by:

  • Gathering and studying data regarding risks that may be present or that are anticipated to be present at work.
  • Inspecting the workplace to find hazards that have appeared recently or frequently.
  • Investigating events, illnesses, injuries, and near-misses to identify underlying risks, their causes, and weaknesses in safety and health programs.
  • Recognizing patterns in the reported injuries, illnesses, and dangers.
  • Taking into account risks related to unexpected or unusual circumstances.
  • Evaluating each detected hazard's potential severity and the likelihood of events and using this data to prioritize corrective activities.

Ask your employer to take action to become compliant if they haven't followed all of OSHA's guidelines for a safe workplace. If they fail to heed your request or respond to it incorrectly, submit a complaint with OSHA and think about speaking with a toxic tort lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to exposure to a toxic material or chemical in the workplace, please contact the experienced environmental and toxic tort attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today for your free, no-obligation consultation.

Laws That Govern Environmental And Toxic Chemical Exposure

  • Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) -The Clean Water Act sets the fundamental framework for controlling pollution discharges into American waterways and regulating surface water quality requirements. Under the CWA, the EPA has put in place pollution management plans, including regulating industrial effluent.
  • Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) - The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 provides EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping, and testing requirements and restrictions relating to chemical substances or mixtures. 
  • Clean Air Act of 197 (1970 CAA) - The federal government's involvement in combating air pollution underwent a significant change with the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The creation of thorough federal and state laws to control emissions from both stationary (industrial) sources and mobile sources was approved by this act. 

Examples Of Environmental Exposure 

Dupont’s Forever Chemicals (Teflon)

DuPont bought a plot of property from cattle rancher Wilbur Tennant in the 1980s to use as a landfill for products that were meant to be non-hazardous. A brook on the property ran straight into the Ohio River. Wilbur Tennant and Rob Bilott filed a lawsuit against DuPont in 1998 after seeing unusual characteristics in the creek and the mysterious deaths of hundreds of his cows. Bilott discovered internal DuPont records about PFOA contamination in groundwater and plant workers during the litigation process. A sealed settlement for the lawsuit was reached in 2001.

DuPont paid $343 million to resolve a class action lawsuit in 2004 that now had 80,000 plaintiffs in 6 water agencies. The settlement also mandated the development of a C8 Science Panel and the funding of a study to gather health data from the population exposed to PFOA and assess whether exposure to it truly caused harm. The 2013 study found a connection between PFOA exposure and six diseases, including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and ulcerative colitis. 

BP Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, which was working in the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded and sank, causing the greatest oil spill in the history of marine oil drilling operations and the deaths of 11 crew members. 4 million barrels of oil flowed from the damaged Macondo well during an 87-day period before it was ultimately shut up on July 15, 2010. The United States filed a complaint in District Court on December 15, 2010, alleging that BP Exploration & Production and a number of other defendants were to blame for the spill. 

In November 2012, BP and the DOJ came to an arrangement for BP to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including violations of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as 11 counts of felony manslaughter. Over $4.5 billion in penalties and fines were included in the agreement, of which $1.26 billion would go to a discretionary fund managed by the DOJ, $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

Founded over 50 years ago, The Cochran Firm is one of the nation's premier law firms prepared to handle the most challenging civil cases involving personal injury, product and drug liability, wrongful death, fraud, truck and automobile accidents, medical malpractice, environmental pollution, complex and commercial litigation, class action, mass torts, and nursing home abuse. 

At The Cochran Firm, we are here to serve the injured. We stand up for our community and clients by representing the injured and those wronged in potential class action cases and environmental and toxic exposure cases across the United States. When you partner with The Cochran Firm, you become a part of the Cochran family. Our experienced attorneys and staff are here for you. 

If you have been injured or suffered financial losses due to another party's wrongdoing, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We will answer your questions and address your concerns with kind, knowledgeable counsel.  

Works Cited

The Mesothelioma Center: Support for Cancer Patients & Families, 

“Disparities in Distribution of Particulate Matter Emission Sources by Race and Poverty Status.” American Journal of Public Health, 7 March 2018, 

“Environmental Justice | US EPA.” Environmental Protection Agency, 

“forum shopping | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Legal Information Institute, “Presidential Documents.” Presidential Documents, 16 February 1994,