Legal Notice: News from around NH

NH Supreme Court hears arguments in PFAS contamination case from Saint-Gobain

The NH Supreme Court on Nov. 15 heard hearings in a long-running case focused on contamination from PFAS chemicals emitted by manufacturing company Saint-Gobain.

The case is a proposed class action lawsuit for residents exposed to PFAS contamination near Saint-Gobain’s Merrimack facility. Local residents who say they have been exposed to toxic chemicals that have contaminated their water are hoping the company will pay for medical surveillance for diseases linked to PFAS exposure, such as certain cancers.

The case has been pending in the New Hampshire District Court since 2016. However, courts in the United States are divided on the issue of medical surveillance, so the New Hampshire Supreme Court is being asked to consider whether the state recognizes medical surveillance claims as a cure for people who have been exposed to toxic substances.

They were also asked to indicate whether these individuals would need to show they had a current injury from the toxins, or if they could have medical monitoring without a current injury.

In a brief filed before the hearing, plaintiffs’ attorneys also argued that exposure to toxins and increased risk of disease requiring medically necessary testing is itself an injury eligible for compensation.

Bruce Felmly, an attorney for Saint-Gobain, argued that allowing medical surveillance claims without a present assault would derogate from 200 years of New Hampshire common law.

US Department of Labor reports crackdown by healthcare employers

The U.S. Department of Labor says ongoing nationwide efforts by its Wage and Hour Division to review compliance by nursing homes, nursing facilities, home health services and other care industry employers have made significant strides in protecting workers’ rights and protections.

Since its launch in 2021, the initiative has closed more than 1,600 investigations and found violations in 80 percent of its reviews. These investigations recovered more than $28.6 million in unpaid wages and damages for nearly 25,000 workers and resulted in estimates of nearly $1.3 million in civil penalties for employers who willfully violated federal laws.

His reviews of residential care facilities, nursing facilities, and home healthcare providers found that the most common violations discovered by investigators were related to failure to pay overtime or state minimum wages, or misclassifying employees as independent contractors. The initiative found that women of color are commonly hurt by violations — particularly in Black, African American, Hispanic, and Asian, including Filipino, communities — who are often employed as domestic helpers, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses.

In recent months, home care companies in Lebanon and Keene have faced heavy fines after the bureau found violations.

Sheehan Phinney’s Attorneys Win NH Supreme Court Case

Sheehan Phinney’s attorneys, Christopher Cole and Megan C. Carrier, recently won a victory in the NH Supreme Court, in which judges upheld that an employee’s complaints about and reporting of a private university’s application of internal grading decisions was not imply public policy considerations Support a wrongful dismissal claim.

The case was Donovan v. Southern New Hampshire University.

The attorneys said the win is important to the academic community because the court recognizes that issues of academic judgment should be left to educational directives rather than to the judiciary, and that the judiciary should show respect to academic institutions when dealing with such matters. Read the full decision here:

Carrier’s practice is focused on commercial litigation and includes representing individuals and corporations in a variety of disputes before state and federal trial and appellate courts, administrative courts, arbitrators and mediation. Cole is co-chair of the firm’s Business Litigation Group and has handled cases involving trade secrets involving software and software applications, alleged misuse of proprietary information and predatory hiring of employees, among others.