Latest Updates in Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits
As of February 2024, there were 6,994 pending aqueous film forming foam lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina multidistrict litigation. MDL 2873 encompasses the claims of individuals in multiple states, as well as multiple water supply companies requesting compensation for filtering the chemicals in the foam out of drinking water.
More cities and individuals may lay health-related claims against 3M and other manufacturers, resulting in more multidistrict or individual suits worldwide. Kidde-Fenwal Inc., a company that makes fire control systems, is filing for bankruptcy after facing thousands of lawsuits claiming AFFF and other per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances in its products contaminated drinking water and soil.
- February 2024: A total of 7,191 AFFF lawsuits had been filed in the MDL, of which 6,994 were still pending.
- November 2023: Plaintiffs and defendants are selecting cases to be included in the bellwether trial discovery pool for AFFF personal injury cases.
- June 2023: The first bellwether trial, which water supply companies and the City of Stuart, Florida, brought against 3M, began. 3M reached a tentative $10 billion deal with multiple U.S. cities and towns over contamination claims, but the settlement has not been finalized.
- May 2023: A court denies 3M’s motions to restrict evidence, including information about the company’s compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
- April 2023: A court denies 3M’s request to move New Hampshire litigation to a federal court. 3M claimed that the damage caused to the state’s natural resources occurred through military use of AFFF and that the trial should be federal.
- March 2023: The International Association of Firefighters accuse the National Fire Protection Association of requiring PFAS in firefighter gear. The lawsuit claims the NFPA is liable for not removing testing that requires the use of the chemicals.
Manufacturers such as DuPont and 3M are named in suits. Additionally, different views on who to hold responsible for the use of AFFF and PFAS chemicals are beginning to emerge from the litigation. Accusations have emerged that NFPA testing required use of the chemicals to meet testing standards for firefighter gear.
Civilian firefighters, military firefighters and military personnel use AFFF to control difficult-to-fight fires, especially fires involving liquid fuel. The film-forming foam coats a fire, smothering it and preventing reignition. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, firefighters have used AFFF since the 1970s, despite evidence that long-term exposure to the chemicals in AFFF increases cancer risk.
AFFF Lawsuit Settlements
In June 2023, 3M, a manufacturer of AFFF and other PFAS-containing products, offered a $10 billion settlement in an attempt to end litigation. Those involved in the litigation may choose to reject the offer, and individual lawsuits may still proceed against 3M and other manufacturers of the chemicals.
In October 2022, multiple plaintiffs filed against various chemical manufacturers, including 3M, DuPont and Kidde-Fenwal, and against the State of New Jersey Port Authority and fire marshal. These claims show the scope of litigation and indicate that different entities may become involved in AFFF lawsuits.
In January 2021, Johnson Controls agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle an AFFF class action lawsuit that included about 1,200 Wisconsin residents. The residents claimed they suffered exposure, property value loss and diseases due to PFAS contamination of wells in the Marinette/Peshtigo area.
Why AFFF Lawsuits Are Being Filed
U.S. states, cities and municipalities and individual plaintiffs continue to file AFFF lawsuits against manufacturers and other entities because of the serious health risks associated with the foam. AFFF contains toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Research has shown these chemicals can remain in the body and the buildup can cause serious illnesses, including cancer.
Lawsuits say AFFF manufacturers and other entities, including the NFPA, knew or should have known PFAS in the foam were hazardous and manufacturers and overseeing bodies failed to properly warn people of the health risks. PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down and are the subject of hundreds of studies showing they damage health and the environment.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer doesn’t currently classify AFFF as a carcinogen, but the foam contains PFAS that organizations do classify as carcinogenic to animals and possibly to humans. Many of the lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers allege the foam led people to develop cancer.
Who Is Eligible to File an AFFF Lawsuit?
Anyone exposed to AFFF and suffered adverse health problems may be eligible to file an AFFF lawsuit. Firefighters (civilian and military), military personnel, airport workers, oil rig workers and chemical plant workers who worked with the foam over many years have the greatest risk of developing serious health complications, including cancer.
Individuals may also be exposed to AFFF because the chemicals within the foam contaminate air, soil and groundwater, including drinking water. People who live in communities around military bases or other facilities that use AFFF are also at risk of ill health effects and may be eligible to file AFFF lawsuits.
- Bladder cancer
- Cholesterol changes
- Immune system damage (e.g., antibody production and immunity issues)
- Kidney cancer
- Liver damage
- Pancreatic cancer
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure in pregnant women
- Testicular cancer
- Thyroid disease
- Ulcerative colitis
If you think you or a loved one has developed these health conditions through exposure to AFFF, you may be able to file a lawsuit or join an AFFF MDL. A lawyer experienced in personal injury lawsuits or settlements can give you advice. An experienced lawyer can assess your eligibility and help you collect the documentation you need for your case.
Firefighter Files AFFF-Related Bladder Cancer Lawsuit
In September 2020, firefighter Lon Holliday, Jr. filed a lawsuit against 3M and several other companies after he developed bladder cancer that he claims was because of AFFF exposure. Holliday said he regularly used AFFF in training to extinguish fires while working as a civilian and military firefighter.
According to his suit, by the end of the 1980s, manufacturers performed research and testing that showed workers exposed to PFAS were more likely than average to develop cancer and other health problems. Manufacturers did not share this information, however. Holliday’s lawsuit is still ongoing.
Manufacturers Named in AFFF Lawsuits
3M was one of the first companies to manufacture and market AFFF. Since then, several other companies have manufactured and sold the foam to local and military firefighters and other groups under different brand names. AFFF lawsuits name many of these manufacturers.
- 3M Company (Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing Company)
- AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc.
- Amerex Corporation
- Archroma Management, LLC
- Arkema, Inc.
- BASF Corporation
- Buckeye Fire Equipment Company
- Carrier Global Corporation
- Chemdesign Products, Inc.
- Chemguard, Inc.
- Chemicals, Inc.
- Chemours Company FC, LLC
- Chubb Fire, Ltd.
- Clariant Corp.
- Corteva, Inc.
- Deepwater Chemicals, Inc.
- Du Pont De Nemours Inc. (formerly known as DowDuPont Inc.)
- Dynax Corporation
- E.I. Du Pont De Nemours And Company
- Fire Products GP Holding, LLC
- Kidde-Fenwal, Inc.
- Kidde PLC
- Nation Ford Chemical Company
- National Foam, Inc.
- The Chemours Company
- Tyco Fire Products LP (as successor-in-interest to The Ansul Company)
- United Technologies Corporation
- UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation, Inc. (formerly known as GE Interlogix, Inc.)
AFFF lawsuits claim manufacturers knew that long-term exposure to PFAS can increase the likelihood of cancer and other serious illnesses but that they didn’t warn customers or the public. Other entities are also named in lawsuits, including the NFPA.
Lawsuits allege that the NFPA created a firefighting equipment testing standard that effectively requires PFAS in the equipment. Firefighters have a higher-than-average cancer rate, and lawsuits also allege that exposure to AFFF during active duty and training increases this risk.
8 Cited Research Articles
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- U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2024, February 1). MDL Statistics Report - Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. Retrieved from https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Pending_MDL_Dockets_By_Actions_Pending-February-1-2024.pdf
- Casetext. (2023, May 15). City of Stuart v. 3M Co. (In re Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Prods. Liab. Litig.). Retrieved from https://casetext.com/case/city-of-stuart-v-3m-co-in-re-aqueous-film-forming-foams-prods-liab-litig-2
- Knauth, D. (2023, May 15). Fire protection company Kidde-Fenwal files for bankruptcy citing PFAS lawsuits. Retrieved from https://kfgo.com/2023/05/15/fire-protection-company-kidde-fenwal-files-for-bankruptcy-citing-pfas-lawsuits/
- Water, Finance & Management. (2023, May 1). New Hampshire rebuffs 3M’s attempt to move PFAS case to federal court. Retrieved from https://waterfm.com/new-hampshire-rebuffs-3m-attempt-to-move-pfas-case/
- International Association of Firefighters. (2023, March 16). IAFF Files Lawsuit Against NFPA Over Gear Testing Standard. Retrieved from https://www.iaff.org/news/iaff-files-lawsuit-against-nfpa-to-remove-pfas-from-gear/
- Rizzuto, P. (2023, February 9). PFAS Science Ruling for Fire Foam Cases Coming Soon (Correct). Retrieved from https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/pfas-science-rulings-for-firefighting-foam-cases-coming-soon
- Fellner, C. (2023, February 8). $58 billion day of reckoning looms for 3M over toxic ‘forever chemicals’. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/national/58-billion-day-of-reckoning-looms-for-3m-over-toxic-forever-chemicals-20230203-p5chri.html
- Gunn, E. (2021, January 7). Johnson Controls to pay $17.5M to Town of Peshtigo residents in PFAS class action suit. Retrieved from https://wisconsinexaminer.com/brief/johnson-controls-to-pay-17-5m-to-town-of-peshtigo-residents-in-pfas-class-action-suit/