Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – On Friday, May 12, 2023, a Pennsylvania court issued an order allowing six Mon Valley residents to represent more than 123,000 of their neighbors in a lawsuit over air pollution from U.S. Steel.
The lawsuit, Hernandez v. U.S. Steel (Case No. GD-19-005325), arose in December 2018 after a massive fire disabled U.S. Steel’s pollution controls at its coke works in Clairton, Pennsylvania. When U.S. Steel continued production during the 102 days it took to restore those controls, the plant’s sulfurous emissions spiked and local officials warned residents of 22 communities surrounding the plant to avoid outdoor activities.
The plaintiffs claim that, during these 102 days, Mon Valley residents suffered noxious odors, burning throats, watering eyes, headaches, nausea, and trouble breathing at their homes.
By officially certifying the plaintiffs’ claims of negligence, nuisance, and trespass as a class action, Friday’s ruling allows the representative plaintiffs to seek damages for more than 123,000 residents of the 22 communities in a single lawsuit.
“Our team is thrilled by the Court’s decision,” said Sarah Siskind, lead attorney for the plaintiffs and a partner at Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. “Now we can move forward and hold U.S. Steel accountable to its Mon Valley neighbors.”
“This is one of the most important class certification decisions in Allegheny County history, if not all of Pennsylvania,” said Jim Pietz, another attorney for the plaintiffs and a partner at Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec, LLC.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys plan to hold town hall meetings in the Mon Valley to explain what the Court’s certification of the class action means for local residents. The meetings’ time and place will be announced in the coming days. Participation will be limited to persons who lived in the 22 community areas during the 102 days after the fire.
If you are a resident of Mon Valley, please sign up for case updates using the contact form on the following webpage: www.MonValleyPollution.com, or by calling or texting us at (412) 545-3473.
United States Steel moved the Court of Common Pleas to certify the Court’s class certification decision for immediate appeal and stay the litigation pending that appeal. The Court denied the motion, summarily, five days after it was filed.