2021 PFAS Billion-Dollar Class Action Settlements and Verdicts
- Author: Monica Jackson
- Posted: 2023-01-19
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are diverse man-made grease, oil, water, and heat resistant chemicals used in clothing, paints, cleaning products, insulation on electrical cords, and fire-fighting foams from the 1940s until recently in the United States. Multiple individual mass tort lawsuits are filed against manufacturers who created, sold, and marketed products containing PFAS chemicals that harmed a substantial number of people, or multiple classes of people. PFAS litigation results in billion-dollar settlements and verdicts.
Widespread Invasive PFAS Compounds
PFAS are still found in cookware you may use daily, in pizza boxes delivered or carried into your home, in stain and fire-resistant outerwear and carpets, and in foam used to extinguish fires. The human body does not digest PFAS compounds found in:
- Food: fish, animals, and plants
- Fabrics: Stain and water resistant
- Nonstick surfaces: Teflon
- Firefighting foam: Ground water contamination
- Chrome plating: Manufacturing
Adverse Effects of PFAS Chemicals in Humans
Peshtigo and Marinette, Wisconsin, residents developed kidney and cancer problems from PFAS chemicals in their drinking water. In January 2021, they received $17.5 million in compensation from three different companies that polluted their water. In December 2020, eleven California water districts filed a class action lawsuit seeking $1 billion from DuPont, 3M, Chemours, Corteva, and Decra Roofing Systems for contaminating their water supplies. In the large PFAS lawsuit, the plaintiffs also demand that the defendants clean up and purify their drinking water. Adverse effects of PFAS chemicals on the human body include, but are not limited to:
- Cancer: Bladder, thyroid, testicular, and kidney
- High cholesterol
- Complications during pregnancy: low birth weights
- Compromised Immune Systems
- Ulcerative colitis
- Thyroid hormone disorders
The United States House of Representatives
President Biden with the United States Congress quickly signed a PFAS Action Act. The PFAS Action Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to declare PFAS chemicals hazardous to public health and limit the concentration of PFAS in drinking water. The Environmental Working Group published a study explaining that 200 million people in the United States drank water contaminated with PFAS 'forever chemicals.' PFAS chemicals cause permanent learning disabilities, cancer, and other chronic medical conditions. Limiting the thousands of PFAS chemicals found throughout our environment in the United States is no easy task.
Minnesota Residents Sue 3M Over PFAS in Scotchgard
Minnesota plaintiffs won an $850 million settlement from 3M during 2010 for polluting their water supplies with PFAS chemicals in Scotchgard. The lawsuit was one of the first, and it took eight years to settle.
Shaping Future PFAS Litigation
The Michigan Office of the Attorney General filed against 17 manufacturers under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the Michigan Fraudulent Transfer Act, and Michigan's laws of negligence, trespass, and public nuisance. Settlements reached in three different states for PFAS environmental pollution are as follows:
- Alabama $4 million and $35 million
- Minnesota $850 million and $2.7 million
- Michigan $55 million and $113 million
Firefighter Heat Resistant Foam
If you're a firefighter who was exposed to heat resistant aqueous film forming foam used at airports, in military installations, or on jet fuel and oil spills before its use was prohibited in January 2020, you've been exposed to PFAS carcinogens that can cause cancer later in your life. PFAS foam also contains dangerous life-threatening bacteria that can collect in waterways, rivers, and lakes polluting the water and causing algae blooms. If you developed cancer after long-duration exposure to these chemicals, you may be entitled to class action or mass tort settlement money from 3M and other manufacturers.
Mass Tort Cases for Active-Duty Military
Because active duty military and veterans previously ordered to active duty on a military installation with water contaminated with PFAS or used PFAS chemicals in performance of their daily tasks, such as, fighting fires or painting aircraft and their parts, individual personal injury cases are being filed for military personnel and veterans. The following manufacturers are being sued:
- Tyco Fire Products
- The 3M Company
- Chemguard, Inc.
- The Chemours Company
- National Foam Inc.
Increased Regulation, Remediation, and Compensation in 2021
Lawsuits are continuously being filed against PFAS manufacturers and all those with strict liability for the application of the PFAS products. President Biden is increasingly regulating of the use of PFAS chemicals and companies identified by the Environmental Protection Agency to remediate damage to the environment, to municipalities, to employees, and to the public. Congress may establish a medical monitoring system to evaluate and mediate legal issues.