HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are now more than 7,000 people who have joined a class action lawsuit against the Navy for contaminating the water with fuel at Red Hill.
Attorney Kristina Baehr represents 7,000 clients and she estimates that there are 500 more who have different attorneys. While the Navy has admitted responsibility for the spill, Baehr said the Navy needs to take that further.
“The government knew that the water was contaminated and didn’t tell people to stop using the water, so the government has not admitted its failure to warn people,” said Baehr.
She added that the government is also not acknowledging how much harm was done to the families, who she said are still suffering from all types of ailments. Among them, the Dietz family who still live on base.
“That’s extremely frustrating. It’s frustrating to see your kids suffer as well and to see your kids questioning if their water is safe,” said Richelle Dietz.
Dietz said she and her husband are still suffering from rashes, the kids are dealing with asthma and migraines. Even their dog Rocket is sick.
“He’s been diagnosed with heart issues. He’s right on the verge of heart failure, so he’s on medications,” said Dietz.
Dietz will be one of six families who will take part in the first trial which will be held in March. Baehr said it’s known as the bellwether trial and the outcome will give an indication on how the rest of the lawsuits will be decided.
“We believe that the judge is going to find, that our clients are in fact, still sick from their exposure that they have been very traumatized by their experience, and that they’re entitled to significant compensation going forward.”
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Baehr said the compensation will be determined by the court. She added that the families also want accountability.
“They want change, they want to make sure that this never happens again, and the only way that they can do that is for the government to accept responsibility,” said Baehr.
The deadline to file a lawsuit is November 20. KHON2 News reached out to the Navy and a spokesman says they do not discuss matters that are currently under litigation.