Judge denies government’s request to consolidate scores of suits over Red Hill fuel spill
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal judge has denied the U.S. government’s request to consolidate more than 100 Red Hill lawsuits.
HNN was in federal court last week as Red Hill families and the U.S. Department of Justice appeared in court. The government asked the judge to consolidate the Red Hill lawsuits since they have common issues.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield ruled the cases will not be consolidated.
“Consolidation would unduly compromise one or the other, or both,” wrote Mansfield.
Attorney Kristina Baehr of Just Well Law represents more than 100 plaintiffs. There are also other plaintiffs with other law firms. The ruling means six representative plaintiff families are set for trial next March.
“The government is saying they want more time, but the judge is saying no these cases are moving forward toward trial and these families need justice,” said Baehr.
Plaintiff Amanda Zawieruszynski, 38, and her family were living in military housing at Halsey Terrace at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during the tainted water crisis in 2021.
Fuel leaks from the Navy’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility contaminated the tap water in the Pearl Harbor drinking water system.
“My house smelled like a gas station,” said Zawieruszynski.
She says her whole family got very sick. Her daughter suffered severe nose bleeds for months.
Zawieruszynski says she got chemical burns in her mouth and throat and intestinal blockage. She also suffered serious nerve damage in her head so she gets monthly injections to numb the pain.
“It is a painful process and procedure. Definitely, this whole experience has turned our lives upside down,” said Zawieruszynski.
Her dog, Molly, also died nearly three months after the fuel spills.
“It was horrible to watch,” she said.
“We are still dealing with the after-effects of being poisoned with jet fuel,” she added.
Next week, the parties in the cases go into mediation.
“I want accountability. I want the truth. I want this to never happen to anyone again. This is horrific. Not just for me, but for thousands of families,’ said Zawieruszynski.
HNN reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice and has yet to hear back.
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