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The Most Recent Updates on AFFF Lawsuits

Updated: Mar 26

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting agent used for decades to extinguish fuel fires, has recently become a focal point of environmental and health concerns. This foam, known for its effectiveness in battling intense fires, particularly in military and airport settings, contains chemicals linked to significant environmental damage and health risks, including cancer. 

The Most Recent Updates on AFFF Lawsuits

Over the years, these concerns have given rise to a series of lawsuits challenging the safety and impact of AFFF. As these legal battles evolve, staying informed about the latest developments is crucial.


This article aims to provide a comprehensive writeup on the most recent updates in AFFF litigation. To learn more about firefighting foam lawsuits, continue reading as we dive into the heart of these pressing legal issues.


Overview of AFFF Litigation


Early Cases and Landmark Lawsuits


Initial Lawsuits: The early cases of AFFF litigation primarily focused on the health impacts on firefighters and military personnel who were regularly exposed to AFFF.


Landmark Cases: One of the first major lawsuits was filed by the State of New York against several AFFF manufacturers, setting a precedent for future legal actions. This case brought significant attention and opened the floodgates for subsequent lawsuits.


Scope of the Litigation – Who is Suing Whom?


  • Individuals and Class Actions: A significant portion of AFFF litigation involves individual firefighters, military personnel, and residents of contaminated areas. These plaintiffs have filed lawsuits individually or as part of class actions, seeking compensation for health issues attributed to AFFF exposure.


  • Municipalities and States against Manufacturers: Numerous states and municipalities have initiated legal action against AFFF manufacturers. These lawsuits typically focus on the costs associated with environmental cleanup and the provision of safe drinking water, as well as seeking damages for endangering public health.


Key Legal Arguments and Defenses


Negligence and Failure to Warn: Many plaintiffs argue that AFFF manufacturers failed to warn users and the public about the dangers associated with PFAS in their products. This claim hinges on the assertion that manufacturers knew, or should have known, about the risks.


Product Liability: Plaintiffs often claim that AFFF products were inherently dangerous and defective, making manufacturers liable for any harm caused. This argument is based on the premise that the risks associated with PFAS were significant and not outweighed by the benefits of using AFFF.


Environmental Law Violations: Some lawsuits allege that the release of PFAS through AFFF violated environmental laws. These claims focus on the contamination of natural resources, including water sources, and the resultant ecological and health impacts.


Recent Updates in AFFF Litigation: A Comprehensive Overview


March 1, 2024 - Crucial Status Conference and Addition of a New AFFF Lawsuit to MDL


This day marks a significant moment in the ongoing AFFF litigation, as lawyers from both sides are set to meet before Judge Gergel to discuss the current status of the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). 


This conference is pivotal for understanding the trajectory of settlement negotiations in 2024. Concurrently, the MDL has been expanded with the addition of a new lawsuit filed by a Nevada firefighter diagnosed with bladder cancer, allegedly due to prolonged AFFF exposure.


February 23, 2024 - BASF's Strategic Move and Other Defendants' Legal Maneuvers


In a notable development, BASF and nine plaintiffs have agreed to pause filing deadlines to facilitate settlement discussions. This agreement extends the statute of limitations, ensuring plaintiffs can file their lawsuits if settlements are not reached. 


Meanwhile, other defendants, including 3M, Tyco Fire Products, and Chemguard, attempt to incorporate a lawsuit filed by the Connecticut attorney general into the MDL. This case, focusing on limiting PFAS chemical use, differs from the personal injury focus of the current MDL, raising questions about its inclusion.


February 21, 2024 - Surge in AFFF Lawsuits and 3M's Potential Bankruptcy Threat


AFFF lawsuits within the MDL are nearing 7,000, with 279 new cases filed in January alone. The growing volume of cases keeps the possibility of a settlement in 2024 alive. 


Judge Gergel has acknowledged 3M Co.'s settlement in public water contamination cases, but there's growing concern over 3M potentially declaring bankruptcy under the pressure of ongoing PFAS litigation. Despite a significant drop in 3M's value, its substantial remaining worth could be pivotal in compensating affected military members and firefighters.


January 15, 2024 – Washington State Launches AFFF Disposal Program


Washington State has initiated an AFFF collection and disposal campaign to eliminate the foam from municipal fire stations. This initiative mirrors New Hampshire's earlier efforts with Revive Environmental, highlighting a growing trend in addressing the environmental and health risks posed by AFFF stockpiles.


January 11, 2024 – Progress in the AFFF Bellwether Trials


Following a resolution in a discovery dispute, Judge Gergel has directed the commencement of evidence collection for upcoming bellwether trials in the AFFF MDL. These trials will be the first to proceed after contentious settlements involving 3M and DuPont with municipal water suppliers, marking a significant step in the litigation process.


January 6, 2024 – Hawaii Files a Lawsuit Against AFFF Manufacturers


Hawaii has joined the list of states seeking justice from major AFFF manufacturers like 3M and DuPont. The state's lawsuit focuses on deceptive marketing practices and failure to warn about the dangers of toxic firefighting foams, seeking compensation for extensive environmental and health damage.


January 5, 2024 - Surge in AFFF Lawsuit Filings


The AFFF lawsuit has become one of the fastest-growing mass torts. As the January 31, 2024, deadline approaches for resolving discovery disputes, there has been a noticeable increase in filings, reflecting the urgency and scale of the issue.


December 27, 2023 - Transition to Personal Injury Cases in AFFF MDL


Following the resolution of municipal AFFF lawsuits, Judge Gergel is gearing up to address over 6,600 personal injury cases in the MDL. A recent case management order has directed the prosecution to select plaintiffs for the bellwether trial process. On December 12th, a list of 25 plaintiffs with various health conditions, including cancer and thyroid diseases, was submitted. 


These plaintiffs have waived their Lexecon rights, allowing their cases to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Concurrently, attention has been drawn to Kidde-Fenwal Incorporated's (KFI) bankruptcy proceedings, temporarily halting AFFF-related claims against them until January 5, 2024.


December 10, 2023 - Upcoming Fairness Hearing for Municipal Water Settlements


The District Court of South Carolina is scheduled to conduct a fairness hearing on December 14 for the $1.18 billion DuPont settlement in the AFFF MDL. 


This follows a $10.3 billion settlement from 3M, concluding the first phase of lawsuits from municipal water suppliers. However, objections have been raised by several states and towns regarding the adequacy of these settlements.


December 4, 2023 - Surge in AFFF Lawsuits


The AFFF MDL has seen an addition of 351 new lawsuits, bringing the total to over 6,400. These include a mix of municipal water contamination and individual cancer lawsuits due to PFAS exposure in firefighting foam products.


November 5, 2023 - Preparation for Bellwether Trials


The AFFF MDL is moving towards its first bellwether trials, with both plaintiff and defense counsel required to submit lists of potential cases. These trials will set the stage for future proceedings in the MDL.


October 20, 2023 - New Study Links AFFF to Testicular Cancer


A groundbreaking study has established a causal link between AFFF exposure and testicular cancer among U.S. Air Force members. This is the first study, testing actual blood samples to confirm the connection.


October 5, 2023 - Major Settlement in PFAS Municipal Water Contamination Claims


3M, DuPont, and other AFFF manufacturers have agreed to a $10.3 billion settlement to resolve global PFAS contamination claims. This development is expected to influence the focus on individual firefighter cancer lawsuits within the MDL.


September 10, 2023 - Judge Requests Scientific Evidence in AFFF Cases


Judge Gergel has called for updated scientific studies linking AFFF exposure to health risks. This request coincides with the increasing likelihood of a global settlement in municipal water contamination cases, which could set a precedent for individual claims.


July 20, 2023 - Rapid Growth in AFFF Lawsuits


The number of AFFF cases in the MDL has reached 5,000, with a noticeable increase in advertising for toxic firefighting foam cancer cases. This surge indicates a growing awareness among potential plaintiffs.


July 5, 2023 - Dupont and 3M's Billion-Dollar Settlements


Dupont and 3M have settled their municipal water contamination lawsuits for billions, with Dupont paying $1.18 billion and 3M $10.3 billion. Though not directly related to individual AFFF lawsuits, these settlements demonstrate the manufacturers' willingness to resolve claims.


June 5, 2023 - First AFFF Lawsuit and Global Settlement Prospects


The first AFFF water contamination lawsuit involving the City of Stuart, Florida, was scheduled to begin but has been delayed due to potential global settlement talks. This delay is a positive sign for individual AFFF lawsuits, as manufacturers may soon focus on resolving these claims.


Conclusions

Staying informed about the ongoing AFFF lawsuits is crucial for those directly affected and understanding the broader implications on industry practices and public policy. These lawsuits are more than legal battles; they represent a significant shift in how we address environmental and health safety issues in relation to chemical exposures.


The outcomes of these cases have the potential to reshape manufacturing standards, influence stricter regulatory measures, and ensure greater transparency and accountability from corporations.


As these lawsuits progress, they serve as pivotal moments in the fight for environmental justice and public health protection, setting precedents that will impact future generations.


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Bennie Manning
Bennie Manning
Apr 22

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