Developments in Toxic Tort Liability for the Quality of Groundwater Served

This Article provides a road map of how the common law theories have developed over the past hundred years and how they apply to municipal water providers today. Beginning with the typhoid litigation at the beginning of the twentieth century, this Article catalogues the major developments in toxic tort liability facing municipal water providers, along with the ever-changing standard of care expected of water system operators. It ends with a case-study discussion of recent toxic tort litigation brought for deaths caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which, though incredibly rare, was the basis for several multi-million dollar wrongful death claims in Arizona (despite Arizona’s statute providing a safe harbor under SDWA compliance). Growing public concern over the pollution of drinking water, coupled with a near failing grade given to the nation’s drinking water infrastructure, means that toxic tort liability poses a significant concern that few municipalities are prepared to address.