VISTA —- A group of 10 people who live or work in Escondido are seeking a court order barring the city from fluoridating its water supply.
A class-action lawsuit originally filed in September and updated last week alleges that the city’s decision to add fluoride to drinking water violates residents’ equal-protection and due-process rights under the state and federal constitutions.
The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the fluoridation of Escondido’s water unconstitutional and prohibiting the city from going forward with its plans. It will be several months before the city has its fluoridation system in place, said Public Works Director Pat Thomas.
The lawsuit alleges that mass fluoridation “presents a reasonable certainty of harm” to residents and that studies show fluoridation of the water supply does not prevent tooth decay.
A divided city council voted 3-2 in June to lift a 1999 city ban against putting chemicals, including fluoride, in city water and to begin the process of fluoridating the city’s drinking water. Proponents said then that fluoridation is a safe, effective way of combating tooth decay in children.
The Statewide Fluoridation Act requires cities throughout California with more than 10,000 water service connections to fluoridate their water once money becomes available. The California Dental Association Research Fund offered to pay $140,000 in equipment costs to set up Escondido’s water treatment plant for water fluoridation, the city’s utility manager said in June.
Citizens for Safe Drinking Water
December 5, 2001
Citizens file class action against City of Escondido over fluoridation decision
On December 3, 2001, nine individuals, on behalf of themselves, the general public, and others similarly situated, served the City of Escondido with a class action lawsuit for the City’s 3-to-2 decision on June 6 to reverse a city ordinance that prohibited adding any substance to the water intended to treat humans, in favor of proceeding with fluoridation of the public water supply.
The class action suit challenges the constitutionality of mass medication of Escondido’s water supply under the California Constitution and Amendments IX and XIV of the U.S. Constitution.
The class action states that the facts and evidence will establish that fluoridation of the water supply presents a reasonable certainty of harm to the residents of the City of Escondido, and that there has been a change in the comprehension of the underlying science of fluoridation, which now proves that fluoride does not prevent tooth decay when ingested.
In the Introduction to the complaint, “… it can now be proved with reasonable certainty (i.e. beyond speculation and guess) and by preponderance of the evidence, including the testimony of experts learned in the field, that artificial fluoridation of public water supplies causes or contributes to the cause of cancer, genetic damage, intolerant reactions, chronic toxicity, dental fluorosis, bone pathology and neurological injury in humans, and that artificial fluoridation of public water supplies aggravates malnutrition, iodine deficiencies, and other existing illnesses.”
Jeff Green, selected spokesman for the group, and National Director of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, explains, “In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, cases were heard in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Texas, with 11, 14, and 40 days of expert testimony, respectively, with each concluding that fluoridation at 1 part per million does indeed cause adverse health effects, certainly aggravates existing illnesses, and two courts came to the conclusion that fluoridation contributed to a significant increase in cancer deaths. The findings of these courts have never been overturned.
“On appeal by the municipalities intending to fluoridate, the reviewing court panels ruled that, even though harm had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, all controversy would have to be eliminated in order to prevail over the power of a representative body, such as a city council, to make their own decision.
“To hear that a city could continue to contribute to adverse health effects, even when it has been proven in a court of law, and that a city only needed one expert witness to support their decision, was certainly daunting to those who took the time to thoroughly explore the issue. In effect, these rulings reinforced an earlier ruling concerning San Diego in 1953 in which the Court suggested that the remedy was not going to be found in the courts, but was legislative __ either throw the offending representatives out of office, get them to change their minds, or initiate legislation directly by the people ___ and so we have seen very few lawsuits since that time.
“However, a lot has happened since the early 1980’s concerning the legal rights of citizens under protest to defend themselves against reasonable certainty of harm, even against the police powers afforded legislative bodies. And the Escondido City Council was provided evidence of the certainty of harm before they made a decision to proceed with fluoridation.”
The filed complaint is more than 75 pages, as it summarizes more than 170 factual exhibits of harm, including inhibition of thyroxine production, insulin production, seratonin production, melatonin production, and many other essential hormone and enzyme activities. The class action also provides evidence that legally protected classes or subsets of Escondido’s population, including Hispanics, Native Indians, African-Americans, Asians, the elderly, those with heart conditions, kidney dysfunctions and nutritional deficiencies will be disproportionately harmed.
“The City of Escondido was provided the July 2000 cover story of the Journal of the American Dental Association,” said Green, “which stated that fluoride’s action to prevent tooth decay is from application directly to the surface of the tooth, not by swallowing. The August 17, 2001 report by the CDC repeated the same fact.
“The City Council was provided documents directly from the U.S. EPA and the FDA in response to a probe on fluoridation by the U.S. House Committee on Science, in which they each state that they have absolutely no studies on the safety or effectiveness on the actual substances used in 90% of the fluoridation programs and intended for use in Escondido.
“The City was provided documents that show that by adding fluoride to the water they will be mass medicating younger children at a higher rate than any doctor in Escondido, following the recommendations of the American Dental Association or American Academy of Pediatrics, can ethically prescribe.
“And there is no controversy over the fact that there will be an increase in the incidence and severity of dental fluorosis suffered by children if additional fluoride is added to Escondido’s water supply,” said Green.
“The City has admitted that they were not compelled by State law to take this action; yet three members of the City Council have taken it upon themselves to force every person receiving Escondido’s water to eat, drink and bathe in fluoride for the rest of their lives, or suffer the economic harm of abandoning the water supply. And because fluoride can not be removed by simple filtration, and the proven methods of eliminating fluoride, distillation and reverse osmosis, are expensive and can not produce enough water on-demand in enough volume to shower or bathe, avoiding overexposure to fluoride is not affordable by the low-income groups that supposedly fluoridation was intended to help.”
The core plaintiffs in this class action have represented that they have existing illnesses, such as a compromised immune system, compromised bone integrity, type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, specific allergies to fluoride, and children of ages that science and health association recommendations indicate would suffer increased risk of harm should the water be fluoridated. All protest that their Constitutional right to equal protection will be violated, with one plaintiff, representing others similarly situated, unable to effect any legislative remedy because, although he receives Escondido water, he lives outside of the City’s voting district and can not vote Council members in or out, or initiate citizens’ legislation.
Contact: Jeff Green