Parents expect that their children will be in a safe environment when they’re at school, but it appears that at one Long Island middle school, the administration didn’t do nearly enough to keep their students safe. A new lawsuit filed on Sept. 3 against the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District argues that students at Northport Middle School were exposed to a wide range of toxic substances at the school over many years.
While there is currently only one named plaintiff in the suit, the attorneys who filed the suit are seeking class-action status for their claim on behalf of all past and present students of the school. The suit argues that more than 10,000 students may have negative health effects after being exposed to toxins at the school.
A Toxic Environment, for Students and Parents Alike
According to the Suffolk County Department of Health, and even Northport Middle School’s own environmental consultants, a number of highly hazardous substances have blanketed the air, soil, and groundwater in and around Northport Middle School for quite a while. Some of the toxins listed in the suit include mold, lead, mercury, carbon monoxide, benzene, chlordane, petroleum products, and a range of other volatile or semi-volatile organic compounds.
There are numerous adverse consequences if someone is exposed to these compounds, especially children. Mold can cause severe skin irritation and respiratory issues, especially in children who are already susceptible to respiratory problems because of pre-existing conditions like asthma. Lead poisoning causes a wide range of problems in children, including high blood pressure, anemia, kidney damage, damage to the immune system, decreased mental development, increased anti-social behavior, and shortened attention spans. Chlordane is a pesticide banned in 1988 after evidence emerged that exposure led to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes and several kinds of cancer. It is believed that as a result of being exposed to these substances, graduates from Northport Middle School have a much higher chance of contracting severe illnesses such as cancer; damage to the brain, lungs, and kidneys; problems with their immune system; endocrine disruption; and central nervous system issues.
Although school administrators and district staff heard numerous complaints from students, parents, and teachers about conditions at the school, little was done about these dangerous substances on its grounds. According to the complaint, the district did nothing even as students and teachers complained of nausea, noxious odors, dizziness, headaches, asthma attacks, and other health problems.
Parents made numerous requests to have these issues resolved or to transfer their students to different schools, but these requests were either rejected or ignored by school officials. It wasn’t until this past January that the school was temporarily closed after high levels of mercury and benzene were found in its sanitary system. The school was recently re-opened after a new report from an environmental consultant group deemed it safe for students and staff to return, though many families remain concerned about the environment at the school.
Plaintiff’s Lawsuit Illustrates Issues at Northport Middle School
So far there is only one named plaintiff in the lawsuit, though that number is likely to grow as more information emerges about the toxins found at the school. Tara Mackey filed a claim for damages on behalf of her daughter, who attended Northport Middle School from 2015 to 2018. The health of Mackey’s daughter, referred to in court documents as A.I.M., worsened progressively during her time at Northport Middle School, especially after a 2017 chemical spill in the warehouse beneath the school’s K-Wing classrooms.
The lawsuit states that A.I.M. suffered migraines that became much more frequent when she started attending Northport Middle School. The suit goes on to state that starting in seventh grade, A.I.M. became increasingly lethargic and developed an intense cough. In eighth grade, her symptoms worsened, and she was eventually diagnosed with asthma, high levels of carbon monoxide in her blood, and a low blood platelet count. (Platelets help your blood clot when you injure yourself.)
As A.I.M. continued to suffer from these symptoms, her parents and doctors asked if she could change schools, but the request was denied, according to court documents. The lawsuit also says that when Northport parents raised concerns about possible environmental contaminants at the school and asked for an investigation, they were sharply criticized by school district officials. These criticisms created an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation at the school, the lawsuit argues, making it more difficult for students and parents to get to the source of the problem.
As a result of the contaminants at the school and the district’s reluctance to address the problem, graduates of Northport Middle School face “significant risk of future latent injury, diseases and cancers,” according to the lawsuit. The suit calls for a jury trial to address the various complaints from former students, as well as financial compensation for any students who were injured after being exposed to contaminants at the school.
Talk to a Long Island School Injury Lawyer Today
The legal system allows victims of negligence to pursue compensation for their injuries, and it appears that the officials at Northport Middle School have been reckless in allowing students and staff to be exposed to numerous toxic substances. If you or your child attended Northport Middle School, you could be facing very serious health complications for simply showing up at school.
The personal injury attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. have spent many years helping victims of negligence on Long Island get the compensation they deserve, and we’ve helped our clients recover more than $1 billion for their injuries. We know how serious these situations can be, and we are actively monitoring the situation at Northport Middle School. If you or your child attended Northport Middle School, please contact us immediately for your free initial consultation at (516) 433-3000, or visit our contact page to fill out a free case evaluation form. We will do everything we can to help you obtain the compensation that you deserve – and you don’t need to worry about attorney’s fees; we work on a contingency basis for personal injury claims, so you don’t have to pay anything unless your case is successfully resolved.