Plaintiffs In Peoples Gas Lawsuit Speak Out
Some of the 17 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against People’s Gas spoke out at a Mahomet Aquifer Task Force meeting on Monday in Mahomet. They asked the state advisory panel to help ensure they have clean water, after their water wells were contaminated by a gas leak.
They referred to a 2016 gas leak at a People’s Gas underground storage field located in Champaign County near the Mahomet Aquifer, East Central Illinois' primary water source — which contaminated nearby private water wells.
The lawsuit accuses People's Gas of negligence, and consumer fraud — and seeks $50,000 in damages for each of the plaintiffs, along with punitive damages.
Jodi Eisenmann, one of the plaintiffs, said the company failed to inform her family about the leak that contaminated their water well — which she says her family found out about on their own in January 2017 — a month after it occurred.
“It’s horrible. I cry a lot of times and the kids now, they’ll just be like oh mom what’s the matter is it the water? They know immediately to ask, because it just breaks my heart," said Eisenmann.
Brian Manthey, a spokesperson for People's Gas, said the Illinois Department of Public Health has declared the well water at affected homes as safe. However, an attorney for the plaintiffs said that statement is misleading and that People's Gas should pay damages.
Eisenmann said her household’s water remains contaminated, which is why she pleaded with the panel for its help; particularly on behalf of her three-year-old daughter.
“I just thought oh my goodness. This is what my sweet girl is growing up thinking — that we’re in a third-world country where you can’t have fresh water to brush your teeth with. That’s heartbreaking, I just hate that for her," said Eisenmann.
The Mahomet Aquifer Task Force studies the Mahomet Aquifer and provides recommendations to state officials on how to protect the fresh water supply.
Mahomet Aquifer Task Force member Jim Risley said he does not know how to solve Eisenmann and the other plaintiffs’ immediate water issues. However he said he sympathizes with them and advised them to provide the task force with their recommendations to pass on to other state officials.