Analyzing the Intricacies of Trichloroethylene Lawsuits

Individuals and communities are filing lawsuits against firms responsible for trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure and contamination. 

Plaintiffs who have suffered TCE-related injuries can file lawsuits against organizations responsible for the contamination. 

They’ll be eligible for settlements crucial in recovering damages related to their past and future medical bills, lost wages, and reduced living quality.

Analyzing the Intricacies of Trichloroethylene Lawsuits

Individuals and communities are filing lawsuits against firms responsible for trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure and contamination. 

Plaintiffs who have suffered TCE-related injuries can file lawsuits against organizations responsible for the contamination. 

They’ll be eligible for settlements crucial in recovering damages related to their past and future medical bills, lost wages, and reduced living quality. 

Families of the deceased victims can also file wrongful death lawsuits against negligent companies. 

Read this guide to learn more about trichloroethylene exposure and how US citizens are fighting for justice. 

What Is TCE?

Trichloroethylene is a solvent used for the industrial extraction of oils, fats, greases, tars, and waxes. 

It’s also a component of consumer products like paint removers, correction or cleaning fluids, spot removers, and adhesives. 

TCE was widely used in the 70s as a metal degreaser. Environmental concerns saw its decline, and its use in cosmetics and as a food additive was banned in 1977. 

Several studies show that long-term TCE exposure can cause many chronic conditions, including cancer. 

TCE affects the liver, kidneys, heart, central nervous system, lymphatic system, and cervix. 

Inhaling high amounts of the chemical can be fatal. 

Workers in industries that use TCE shoulder the risk of regular exposure, and it’s the employer’s duty to create a safe working environment. 

Employers who fail to ensure the safety of the workers will be legally liable if they fall ill from exposure to TCE or any other toxic chemical. Injured employees can sue and receive adequate compensation for their suffering and related expenses.

Environmental Impacts of TCE

TCE contamination also has a negative environmental impact. Residents of affected regions can be exposed to TCE through contaminated air, food, and drinks. 

The chemical gets into the body through oral, nasal, and dermal absorption. 

It’s rapidly metabolised in the bloodstream to create a host of harmful metabolites that lead to the associated health conditions. 

TCE belongs to a compound class known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

These compounds evaporate quickly after exposure to air. People who handle or work with this chemical must wear personal protective equipment like breath masks, respirators, and gloves.

Community TCE exposure occurs through groundwater contamination. TCE isn’t biodegradable and remains in the water for long periods. 

It evaporates speedily and can enter the air via water or soil. 

Thus, a person can be exposed to TCE by inhaling contaminated air or bathing even if they avoid drinking contaminated water. 

Another notable exposure media is via vapor intrusion, a process that allows TCE to enter a building from the surrounding soil through small gaps such as foundation cracks and utility line openings.

The organizations and industries responsible for TCE contamination which puts individual and environmental health in jeopardy, must be held responsible for their actions. 

If you have been negatively impacted by TCE pollution, you can get justice by contacting an environmental attorney. 

Your attorney will review valid trichloroethylene lawsuit information and help you build a case that will give you the justice you deserve.

How Do I Know If My Water Is Contaminated?

The Environmental Protection Agency sets maximum limits for contaminants, and TCE has a maximum safe level of 0.005mg/L for drinking water. 

The EPA’s goal for TCE for drinking water is zero. 

This agency regularly checks public water supplies for contaminants and expects suppliers to send an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to customers. 

You can find your last CCR on the EPA website. 

Water from private wells should also be tested at least once yearly and more frequently in homes with seniors, pregnant women, or little children. 

The EPA also sets guidelines on well water testing. If you feel your water is contaminated, do well to contact a state-certified laboratory for testing. 

TCE exposure and contamination is more likely to take place in communities near industrial landfills, chemical factories, manufacturing plants, and military bases. 

The chemical has been detected in 1,045 of the 1,699 SuperFund sites – polluted areas requiring a long-term cleanup response. 

You can check for contamination near your community by using this interactive map, updated with EPA data in real-time.

Symptoms of TCE Exposure

The notable symptoms of TCE exposure, like any other chemical, depends on the amount you are exposed to and the duration of exposure. 

For short-term TCE exposure, affected individuals may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Bronchial irritation
  • Euphoria 
  • Headaches
  • Ataxia
  • Weakness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Facial numbness

Long-term TCE exposure can result in life-threatening complications like:

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Decreased libido and fertility
  • Toxicity to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

Studies also show that TCE might be linked to higher incidences of Parkinson’s disease. 

People regularly exposed to the chemical in their line of work are at higher risk of this condition and may also develop autoimmune disorders like systemic sclerosis, multiple myeloma and lupus.

Who Is Responsible for TCE Contamination?

The responsibility for TCE contamination rests on firms that produce or import the chemical. 

It also includes those who have previously used it. 

The EPA, in 2017, stated that 26 facilities in the United Statesreported TCE releases. These numbers included 17 manufacturers, three importers and six corporations processing or using the chemical on-site. A total of 118 facilities also reported TCE use to the EPA. 

The last available data for TCE production in the US dates back to 2016. That year, the EPA reported that the total amount of TCE imported or manufactured in the country was 202.5 million pounds.

Some companies have been called upon to account for their role in TCE contamination around the country. In 2015, 

Water Gremlin — a Minnesota-based organization that manufactures fishing sinkers and battery terminals — had to settle a lawsuit relating to its TCE emission for over $7 million. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that the firm had illegally emitted TCE for over 15 years.

The governmental agency also evaluated 89 facilities using or manufacturing TCE, and discovered that the emission rates exceeded allowed limits by as much as 95 times in some cases. 

Some institutions have adopted measures to eliminate or reduce their TCE emission levels. 

For starters, NASA has performed extensive tests to identify contamination points in and around its facilities and has also worked to keep its groundwater free from TCE. 

Partnering with other scientists, the Space agency has also developed a hyperspectral estimator — a device that can detect TCE and other chemicals in plants for rapid environmental contamination assessment. 

Industries Linked With TCE Use

TCE is used primarily as a solvent and degreaser in the following industries:

Chemical Manufacturing and Processing 

  • Adhesive manufacturing 
  • Chemical synthesis
  • Hazardous waste disposal
  • Paint manufacturing 
  • Industrial gas manufacturing 
  • Petroleum refining
  • Plastics manufacturing 
  • Synthetic rubber manufacturing 

ICT, Electronics and Manufacturing

  • Computer and electronic manufacturing 
  • Medical device manufacturing 
  • Dental equipment manufacturing
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Telecommunications
  • Weapons and munitions manufacturing 

Heavy Industries

  • Vehicle manufacturing and repair
  • Aircraft manufacturing and repair
  • Ship-building and repair 
  • Pump manufacturing
  • Metal electroplating or polishing
  • Machine tool manufacturer 
  • Machine shop operating
  • Metallurgy

EPA Moves to Ban Commercial Use of TCE

The EPA published two proposed rules in December 2016 and January 2017. These regulations sought the ban commercial TCE use under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

One rule was to ban the chemical’s integration in vapor degreasing, while the other was to restrict TCE use in commercial & consumer aerosol degreasing and as a spot remover in dry cleaning. 

In December 2017, the EPA moved these proposed rules to its long-term action agenda, meaning there were no immediate plans to effect them. 

If finalized, the EPA rules will prohibit manufacturing, importing, processing, distributing, and commercial use of TCE for the above purposes.

TCE Exposure Lawsuits

Individuals and regions affected by TCE contamination are filing lawsuits against companies responsible for TCE emissions. 

The subjects of these lawsuits include manufacturers and distributors of TCE-containing products alongside employers who engage the chemical in their production processes or operations. 

The plaintiffs want these companies to pay for medical expenses and settlement for injuries caused by TCE contamination. 

Notable TCE exposure lawsuits include:

$20.6 Million Verdict in Favor of Jodelle Kirk Against Schaeffler Group 

Jodelle Kirk is a 28-year-old woman who developed an autoimmune disorder after TCE exposure due to illegal dumping of the chemical near her home in Missouri. 

Kirk got exposed to TCE while her mom was pregnant. She also came in contact with the contaminated soil by four-wheeling through her neighborhood as a child and from the streams and creeks she often played. 

In March 2016, a federal jury awarded $7.6 million in compensatory damages and $13 million in punitive damages, ruling that defendants exhibited indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others. 

The defendants filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the award was excessive and that the jury made errors. 

This motion was denied, and the Court of Appeals also found that the compensatory award was not excessive. The defendant’s lawyers countered this verdict, stating that $7.6 million in damages was more than twice the plaintiff’s experts’ worst-case scenario. 

The court noted, however, that the jury’s compensatory damages included economic and non-economic forms. 

The plaintiff’s experts explained she suffered $3 million in economic damages and offered credible evidence of more non-economic damages. 

So, the jury’s compensatory award was not excessive. 

Both parties, however, agreed to a settlement for the punitive damages awarded after the court ordered a retrial. 

Workers at Brookhaven National Laboratory File Lawsuit

Two technicians at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) are suing the laboratory, and two manufacturers of TCE-based products (Zep Inc. and Dow Chemicals) alleging that TCE damaged their health. 

Both employees claim that they got no warnings about the dangers of TCE and did not get safety equipment even though the lab and manufacturers were aware of its potential for harm. 

Joseph Marino (61 years), a worker at the lab between 1999 and 2000, is filing a $25 million suit against BNL alongside two manufacturers for kidney cancer due to TCE exposure. 

Marino has lost his right kidney and has a damaged left kidney. 

The second plaintiff, Ronald Yuhas (77 years), developed cystic kidney disease – an illness he claims resulted from handling TCE in the course of his job as technician for 42 years. 

Other workers have subsequently filed similar lawsuits against BNL. 

Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

In August 2022, the US Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), allowing the families of military personnel to take legal action and get financial compensation for injuries due to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. 

From August 1953 to December 1987, the public water supply at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was contaminated with toxic chemicals, including TCE. 

This contamination caused severe injuries to people living in and around the facility. 

Affected service personnel and their families were previously barred from seeking legal redress by federal law and North Carolina’s statute of limitations until now.  

If you lived or worked on Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days within the stated period and developed a cancer or any other TCE-related illness, you may be eligible for a lawsuit.  

Who Can File a TCE Lawsuit?

Any individual who has developed injuries due to TCE exposure can file a personal injury lawsuit against the firms responsible for their exposure. 

Communities suffering negative environmental impacts due to TCE exposure can also take legal action against the companies at fault for the contamination. 

To be eligible to file a lawsuit, individuals must prove their injuries with supporting medical documents, while communities must present evidence of contamination. 

If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by TCE exposure or contamination, contact a lawyer with environmental litigation experience and success for a case review and a potential lawsuit. 

Most attorneys offer free case evaluations and won’t charge a fee till you receive compensation.

Justice Must Prevail!

No individual or community should have to deal with the adverse effects of TCE contamination. 

Thus, the top-tier companies that cause these pollution forms should be brought to account for their activities. 

Filing trichloroethylene lawsuits will ensure that those responsible pay for the required medical care and foot the costs of cleaning up affected communities.

Scroll to Top

See If You Can File

Nationwide Report™ and it’s brands including Valiant Advocates are not a law firm, do not provide any kind of legal or medical advice, explanation, or recommendation to any of its readers about possible legal defense, rights or strategies. The sole basis for the inclusion of the participating lawyers or law firms is the payment of a fee for exclusive geographical advertising rights. By participating and submitting your request, you agree to share your information with us and our partners, and for them to contact you.