Class actions over firefighting foam consolidated into multidistrict litigation

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on November 03rd, 2019

A massive MDL, combining more than 100 lawsuits over per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), PFOS, and PFOA - cancer-linked chemicals found in firefighting foam - was created earlier this year. The lawsuits have been transferred to the District of South Carolina, under the guidance of Judge Richard M. Gergel.

These legal processes allege that aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) - used to put out emergency fires - contaminated the soil near certain airports and other industrial locations, putting human health at risk. Manufacturers named as defendants are:

  • 3M Company
  • Tyco Fire Products
  • Chemguard, Inc.
  • DuPont
  • Kidde-Fenwal Inc.

and several federal entities that are being blamed for producing the substances or foams, or calling for their use.

Our thoughts go out to those seriously affected by exposure to PFAS chemicals. Our seasoned attorneys know how to handle such delicate cases. If you believe that your medical condition was caused by exposure to AFFF and PFAS, call us for a free consultation. So far, lawsuits have focused on certain limited areas, but evidence suggests that most communities train firefighters with potentially toxic foams in local areas that could lead to soil contamination, and the problem may be more widespread than previously believed.

PFAS product liability and occupational exposure claims for personal injury

AFFF health risks

There is evidence from human and animal studies that even at extremely low, barely detectable levels PFAS could have significant effects on the body's development while increasing the risks of cancer and other diseases.

If you believe that you have been exposed to PFAS, see your occupational healthcare provider. Your doctor might also be able to offer an opinion as to whether any conditions could be related to exposure to these "forever" chemicals.

Keep any documentation such as medical reports, safe and accessible in case you might later decide to file a claim or join in a PFAS class-action lawsuit. Time and time again, giant companies are aware of the health and safety risks of hazardous chemicals but don't disclose that information to the public. The toxic tort actions filed against PFAS manufacturers include the following allegations:

  • Firefighters claim that they have been exposed to elevated levels of certain PFAS chemicals from regular contact with firefighting foam products at the AFFF sites. They claim that due to exposure, they are at significant risk of several health conditions, including kidney and testicular cancer, autoimmune disease, and high cholesterol. They ask for a medical monitoring program and damages resulting from exposure to AFFF.
  • Included in the MDL is an Ohio firefighter's nearly nationwide class action against PFAS manufacturers, claiming to represent everyone with PFAS in their blood, which makes up an estimated 99% of the population. He is asking for a health study of exposed people. DuPont and Chemours have already lost some suits over the chemicals after such a study was done on people exposed to one of the chemicals, PFOA, and weighed by a judge and paid $671 million in a settlement. The study concluded that PFOA was linked to six diseases including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and ulcerative colitis, after monitoring affected residents over time.

These lawsuits have been joined together because they share factual questions on:

  • the toxicity of PFAS and their effects on human health
  • the alleged knowledge of the AFFF manufacturers on the dangers of PFAS
  • the extent the defendants conspired or cooperated to conceal the dangers
  • the warnings regarding the proper use and storage of PFAS-based foams

Holding companies accountable in PFAS cases

If you've stumbled across this article because you're searching for a lawyer, we can help. However, we can only provide legal assistance to firefighters and military personnel. To determine whether you are entitled to compensation if you struggle with a disease as a result of AFFF exposure, our attorneys will need your employment or military records, which you must retrieve, and your medical records.

When companies fail to take responsibility for their negligence and place others at risk, they can be held legally responsible. If you or a loved one is suffering from any adverse health effects associated with PFAS exposure, you could file a PFAS class action lawsuit and potentially receive compensation for your suffering. Because there could be several responsible parties for PFAS exposure, these types of lawsuits can be complex as well as lengthy. Speaking to our experienced attorneys can help you weigh your legal options and move forward with any claims.