SEATAC, Wash. - A Seattle firm known for winning high-profile class action lawsuits is taking on the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and two airlines, claiming exhaust chemicals from jets taking off and landing have polluted a huge chunk of King County and have sickened the people who live there.
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the nearly 300,000 people who live in what Steve Berman calls ‘the contamination zone’ – a five-square mile circle centered on the airport. Berman is a managing partner at Hagen Berman, the firm filing the suit.
The suit cites health studies conducted by the University of Washington and the King County Health Department. Berman said the public health report found increased reported illnesses of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, poor birth outcomes, cancer, and central nervous system issues for those living in the ‘contamination zone.’
Impacted areas include Burien, Des Moines, Renton, SeaTac, Tukwila and Normandy Park.
"What's unusual in this case is I have well-documented scientific studies that did the homework for me. Usually, I have to test it myself," Berman said.
The firm has filed the class action lawsuit against Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines, along with the Port of Seattle/Sea-Tac Airport. The suit claims those two airline carriers represent 85% of take-offs and landings at Sea-Tac.
Berman said this isn’t just about money for lost property values.
"They want to set up what's called a medical monitoring fund. So we know these people now are at increased risk of disease-- let's have doctors monitor them over the next 10 to 20 years and pounce on the problems when they spring up because of their exposure," Berman said.
In a statement to FOX 13, the Port of Seattle said the airport and its tenants "follow strict federal, state, and local requirements as they relate to how operations impact environmental issues such as air quality and noise… [and] routinely go above and beyond regulatory requirements to voluntarily further eliminate emissions, reduce noise, and protect habitat."
FOX 13 has also reached out to Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines and has yet to hear back.