BUFFALO, N.Y. — Most people assume there’s fluoride in their public drinking water, but not in Buffalo, not since 2015.

In January, three plaintiffs sued the city for failing to add fluoride to the drinking water over the last eight years.

“Our belief is that everyone who has lived in the City of Buffalo at any point since June of 2015 through now has been harmed by the lack of fluoride in the water,” said Robert Corp.  He’s the lead attorney in the fluoride suit against the city.

New York State law requires plaintiffs to file a notice of claim, a legal document, when they sue a local government.  But, lawyers failed to file the notice of claim in January.  So Corp is letting the first lawsuit expire without further action.  A new updated lawsuit is being filed with the same goal, forcing Buffalo to add fluoride to its water system.

The new class-action complaint includes more than 20 plaintiffs and claims Buffalo violated the constitutional right of its residents to a healthy environment under the Green Amendment in the New York Constitution.

Part of the lawsuit includes various complaints from the plaintiffs, who say the lack of fluoride in the water contributed to an increase in their dental bills. Corp says there was an “uproar” in the community, and many people came forward after learning there was no fluoride in their water.

“I was very concerned. There were members of the community who were very concerned,” he said.

Corp claims everyone who has lived in the City of Buffalo since June 2015 deserves compensation.  His law firm, Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, is seeking $160 million in damages.

But Corp says the $160 million figure rises every day because the city has not yet rectified the situation.  He calls it a “public health emergency.”

Corp stated that everyone in the city is eligible to participate in the lawsuit, but the suit still needs court approval to proceed as a class action.  The fact that the city has not fixed the issue alarms Corp, and he hopes it’s rectified before the lawsuit moves forward.

“We’re hoping that the city does that on their own accord,” Corp said. “It surely shouldn’t take the resolution of this lawsuit, which is something that’s gonna take time, for the city to begin resumption of the fluoridation.”

Corp called the civil suit “a difficult beast,”  and it could take a while to make its way to completion, he said.

A spokesperson for the City of Buffalo told 2 On Your Side the issue should be fixed by the end of the year.  Corp, however, doesn’t believe it will happen.

“Who are we to trust? What basis do we have to trust the city? December 31 is going to come along, and if the fluoride hasn’t resumed, that’s not going to work. I think that there’s clamoring from the community on some clarity on when the fluoride will resume and honestly, what the delay has been, but most importantly, a commitment to a certain day, hopefully sometime very soon,” he said.

Corp points out that the city remains liable for the lack of fluoridation. Buffalo stopped adding fluoride to the water in 2015 to upgrade its treatment plant. The city did put a notice in the annual water report that there would be no fluoride, but Corp claims it was buried in the documentation, and the average person never saw it.

“Byron Brown didn’t know, Common Council didn’t know there was any fluoride in the water, so the idea that everyone else should’ve known there was no fluoride in the water because it was in the water reports that’s a hard thing for me to believe,” Corp told 2 On Your Side.

Another goal of the suit, according to Corp, is to force the city to be more transparent.

“We have no explanation for what the delay is,” Corp said. “There’s a responsibility to the people of the city through our democracy for there to be some amount of transparency.”

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.wgrz.com/article/news/health/plaintiffs-file-new-lawsuit-against-city-no-fluoride-in-the-water/71-d31c0745-4270-426f-aba7-1399d2f89867