Classes are scheduled to resume soon in the Buffalo–Hanover–Montrose School District. Many teachers are already hard at work in these schools. But just as school bells are about to start ringing again, there are concerns that Buffalo’s aging school buildings may be dangerously unsafe.
Radon gas is a major concern. It is common in many older buildings and it is one of the strongest carcinogens known to medical science. Yet Minnesota schools are not even legally required to test for radon, although authorities have designated 80 percent of Minnesota counties as radon hot zones. In response to these concerns, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton promised swift action against this “hidden killer.” It is “disgraceful” that authorities have ignored this danger for so long, he added. As time has already expired in the 2018 Legislative session, the Governor hinted that he might sign an executive order on the subject.
But so far, there ahs been only talk. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm and Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius rather unconvincingly said “we are exploring all available policy avenues including legislative proposals.”
Buffalo MN Lawyers and Mass Tort Cases
High levels of radon gas are a good example of a mass tort. These incidents involve very dangerous products or substances which affect large groups of people.
Legislative action only goes so far. Environmental and other such laws work very well so long as companies voluntarily comply with them. But new regulations almost always end up in court. Companies look for any possible way to challenge them, since as far as they are concerned, these rules simply mean unnecessary costs.
In contrast, Buffalo Lawyers often get results much faster in these cases. These matters usually settle out of court, and the more evidence that the victim/plaintiffs have, the faster they settle. Buffalo Lawyers have two major tools in these cases:
- Negligence: All builders have a duty of care to make facilities which are safe. That duty is even higher with regard to schools, daycares, and other such buildings. Young children are especially susceptible to poisoning from exposure to toxic substances.
- Public Nuisance: There are some pros and cons to these cases. Nuisance does not require a showing of fault or negligence. However, these cases are very complex, and they have lots of moving parts. A Buffalo lawyer can lay out all your options during an initial or follow-up consultation.
Damages in mass tort cases usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, Wright County jurors often award substantial punitive damages in these cases. Many builders take shortcuts to save money during the construction process. This classic “profits before people” approach is usually the basis for such awards.
Toxic Substances in Schools
Many cleaning chemicals are highly toxic, especially to children who have chemical sensitivities to certain substances. Sometimes, the buildings themselves are dangerous as well. Some potential hazards include:
- Radon Gas: This natural substance is in most buildings. Despite strict laws regulating its presence, radon is the second-leading cause of cancer in the United States. Children who spend eight hours a day at school are exposed to 10 times as much radiation as those who live adjacent to nuclear power plants.
- Asbestos: This natural mineral is cheap and plentiful. Additionally, it is a very effective insulator and fire retarding agent. It is also incredibly hazardous and very common in buildings constructed before about 1980. The fibers are so small that about 20,000 of them could collect on the spot between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a U.S. penny. Just one fiber can cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer.
- Lead: This metal causes severe mental handicaps, along with other injuries. Based on new evidence about these hazards, the Centers for Disease Control recently cut the recommended exposure level in half. Buffalo lawyers can use noncompliance with this new standard as evidence of negligence.
- Formaldehyde: This dangerous chemical is common in carpets, plywood, and foam insulation. All these items are common in schools.
- Silica: Over the summer, many older Buffalo schools undergo extensive renovations. These activities often uncover asbestos fibers. Silica dust is another danger. Tiny particles often travel deep into the lungs, where much like asbestos fibers, they eventually cause lung cancer. Silica dust has also been linked to kidney cancer.
Evidence of toxic exposure includes spikes in certain kinds of cancer in certain areas, as well as individual medical records. In these cases, Buffalo lawyers may generally pursue claims against either the building contractor or the school district.
Call Today To Speak With A Buffalo MN Lawyer From Carlson & Jones
We believe that your children deserve to be safe when they go to school. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo MN Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.