City of Pomona water contamination verdict upheld by federal judge

Recently, the City of Pomona, Calif., got one step closer to winning its 10-year lawsuit against the U.S. subsidiary of a Chilean fertilizer manufacturer for contaminating the Southern California city’s drinking water.

The defendant had sold Chilean fertilizer used in the area’s citrus orchards which contained a toxic chemical, perchlorate. After three trials, a federal jury in Los Angeles in September awarded Pomona $48 million to pay for the damage from the presence of perchlorate in the city’s drinking water. 

In January, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner denied the request of the defendant, the U.S. subsidiary of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM North America, Inc.), for a new trial. The judge said the jury’s liability finding was supported by the evidence and that the damages awarded by the jury were not excessive.

Ken Sansone, of SL Environment Law Group, who represented the City of Pomona at trial, said, “We are pleased with Judge Klausner’s ruling. It is time for the company that caused the contamination to pay to clean up the mess it made. The City of Pomona is to be commended for fighting for over a decade to make sure that the polluters, not the taxpayers of Pomona, pay to clean up the perchlorate in the drinking water and that Pomona’s citizens have clean and healthy water to drink.”

SL Environmental exclusively represents cities, states and water utilities in cases involving water contamination. Founded in 2003, the efforts of SL Environmental have resulted in its clients receiving more than $1 billion in settlements and judgements from polluters who contaminated drinking water supplies.

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