AFFF Lawsuit Updates & News | July 2024

Editorial Team

ConsumerShield

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

Read in 12 mins

Summary

  • The AFFF litigation now includes over 8,000 cases, as of May 2024
  • Settlement talks with BASF are ongoing
  • 3M is feeling the financial pressure, potentially considering bankruptcy
  • Bellwether trials for liver and thyroid cancer cases are being prioritized

  1. The AFFF case count rose significantly, from 8,270 in June to 9,198.

    Key Case:

    • New Lawsuit Filed: A Caneyville, Kentucky resident filed a lawsuit alleging severe personal injuries, including thyroid disease, due to AFFF exposure.
    • Plaintiff's Background: The plaintiff, a firefighter since 2015, served at various fire departments in Florida and Kentucky.
    • Claims: He attributes his thyroid disease, pain, suffering, and emotional distress to PFAS-containing AFFF products used during his tenure at Greater Naples Fire Rescue, Caneyville Volunteer Fire Department, and Irvington Fire Department.
    • Link to PFAS: The complaint highlights the connection between PFAS in AFFF products and thyroid cancer.
  2. A former firefighter from Lakewood, Ohio, has filed a lawsuit in the AFFF firefighting foam MDL. The plaintiff served from 1976 to 2001, regularly using Class B foam and turnouts containing PFAS during training and firefighting. Unaware of the dangers, he is now diagnosed with kidney cancer. The lawsuit claims PFAS exposure caused his illness.

  3. Over 8,400 AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are now pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, marking it as the fastest-growing mass tort in the country. The strength of scientific evidence linking PFAS-containing foams to diseases such as kidney and testicular cancer is notably strong, with evidence for liver and thyroid cancer also robust.

    The strong scientific causation is expected to help these cases pass the Daubert standard, allowing bellwether trials to begin by next spring. Consequently, an AFFF lawsuit settlement is anticipated soon, as defendants are unlikely to allow individual cancer cases to proceed to trial.

  4. President Biden signed legislation, supported by the IAFF and FAA, introducing significant grants to eliminate AFFF from airports. The grants aim to replace AFFF with safer firefighting foams.

  5. The AFFF MDL now has 8,270 pending cases, with over 250 new cases added in May. Plaintiff lawyers are concentrating on personal injury cases involving six medical conditions:

    • Kidney cancer
    • Thyroid cancer
    • Testicular cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Thyroid disease and hypothyroidism
    • Ulcerative colitis

    The LLN team anticipates that plaintiffs with these conditions will be selected for the first bellwether trials.

  6. In May, over 250 new cases were added to the AFFF firefighting foam class action MDL, slightly fewer than last month. The total number of pending cases is now 8,270.

  7. A new order allows dismissal of certain claims in the AFFF class action lawsuit.

    Key points for dismissal:

    • Attorneys must file notices for groups of 25 cases.
    • Dismissed plaintiffs can potentially pursue claims outside the lawsuit.
    • Lawyers may hold onto dismissed cases for future action.
  8. This week, six new tag-along lawsuits from various federal districts have been consolidated into the AFFF firefighting foam multidistrict litigation (MDL). These cases are split evenly between water contamination and personal injury claims, broadening the scope of the ongoing litigation concerning AFFF-related damages.

  9. The AFFF firefighting foam class action lawsuit now has over 8,000 pending cases. In the last 30 days, 323 new cases were filed, reflecting a slight decrease in the volume of new cases compared to the previous month.

  10. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has appealed a $1.185 billion judgment previously granted by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in December 2023. The appeal, lodged with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, follows the District's decision to opt out of an earlier Dupont settlement, a move plaintiffs claim forfeits their right to appeal. This appeal does not affect ongoing claims by individual firefighters.

  11. AFFF firefighting foam class action MDL experienced its largest monthly increase in over a year, with 568 new cases added last month. This surge brings the total pending cases in the MDL to 7,738.

  12. This decision is grounded in the robust causal connection these conditions have with AFFF exposure, as supported by current scientific research. While specific trial dates are yet to be announced, this focus underscores the critical nature of these injuries in the broader context of AFFF-related litigation.

  13. BASF and nine plaintiffs have agreed to pause filing deadlines to concentrate on settlement talks in the AFFF MDL, potentially allowing late lawsuits if settlements aren't reached. Meanwhile, attempts by 3M and others to incorporate a Connecticut attorney general's case into the MDL, aimed at regulating PFAS chemical use, have been met with criticism. Critics argue this non-personal injury case might detract from the MDL's core goal of compensating AFFF exposure victims.

  14. January saw 279 new AFFF firefighting foam injury cases, bringing the total close to 7,000. Plaintiffs include firefighters and service members seeking settlements.

    • Settlement Progress: Judge Gergel commended 3M’s settlement that resolved water contamination cases, aiding nearly 12,000 water systems in removing PFAS.
    • Bankruptcy Concerns: Amidst negotiations, there's speculation that 3M might use bankruptcy as a strategy due to the financial pressure from PFAS lawsuits.
    • AFFF Cases Nearing 7,000: Surge in lawsuits from firefighters and service members.
    • Settlement Hopes: Optimism for a resolution this year despite March 1 MDL court date.
    • 3M's Bankruptcy Concerns: Fears of bankruptcy filing under PFAS case pressures.
    • Financial Prospects: Despite value drop, 3M's substantial worth could aid compensation efforts.
  15. The AFFF firefighting foam class action MDL saw an addition of 200 new cases, indicating a continued interest in pursuing litigation against the manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) linked to cancer risks.

  16. A previous update on January 2nd mentioned an initiative to exclude some water contamination defendants from the MDL. This move aims to concentrate more on the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits, which ideally should not have been merged with water contamination cases. The defendants have voiced several concerns against this proposed separation:

    Impact of Ongoing Settlements: They argue that current settlements with other parties might influence the Sovereigns’ claims.

    Existing Bellwether Processes: The ongoing and planned bellwether trials, which cover a wide range of cases and affect numerous individuals, are seen as a priority.

    Regulatory Proceedings and Funding: The Sovereigns’ involvement in regulatory matters and their access to federal funding for PFAS issues could alter the nature of their claims.

    Concerns Over Bellwether Selection: The proposed bellwether process is criticized for being unfair and impractical, particularly regarding the selection criteria for the Sovereigns.

  17. As of January 15, 2024, the AFFF firefighting foam class action Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has risen in its case tally. During the recent holiday season, which typically sees a slowdown in legal activities, the AFFF MDL added 88 new cases, an exception among mass tort litigations. This increase brings the total pending cases in the AFFF MDL to 6,715.

  18. A new lawsuit related to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been initiated in Alabama, focusing on exposure to harmful chemicals. Key elements of the case include:

    • PFAS Exposure Allegations: The plaintiff claims to have been exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including PFOS and PFOA, leading to the development of testicular cancer.
    • Source of Exposure: It is alleged that the cancer-causing exposure stemmed from contaminated drinking water and environmental pollution in the plaintiff's residential area.
    • Legal Proceedings: Initially filed in state court by the plaintiff’s PFAS attorneys, the case has been moved to federal court by 3M, resulting in its inclusion in the AFFF Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
  19. The AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) class action lawsuit presents a unique challenge with personal injury victims and municipalities grouped in the same class. This structure, initially deemed unwise, has led to complications, notably with toxic water cases overshadowing individual injury claims.

    • Seeking Litigation Separation: The Sovereign Committee, a subgroup of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee representing 28 U.S. States and Territories, is now advocating for their lawsuit to be distinct from the broader class action. Their intention is to manage their litigation in a way that minimizes conflicts with existing parts of the lawsuit, particularly regarding information gathering and setting legal deadlines.
    • Focus on Individual Injury Cases: The proposal to separate the Sovereign Committee's litigation underscores the need for more concentrated attention on individual AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuits. This focused approach is seen as beneficial for better addressing the specific needs and challenges of these personal injury claims.
  20. In the last month, the AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) class action Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has witnessed the addition of 227 new cases, bringing the total number of pending cases to over 6,600. Following the resolution of water contamination cases in an earlier global settlement this year, it is presumed that the majority, if not all, of these new cases are related to personal injury claims. This influx reflects ongoing legal actions in the evolving landscape of the AFFF litigation.

  21. Attorneys involved in the AFFF litigation have jointly submitted a motion to establish the Initial Personal Injury Bellwether Discovery Pool. This pool is set to include twenty-five plaintiffs, categorized as follows:

    • Hypothyroidism/Thyroid Disease: Eight plaintiffs.
    • Testicular Cancer: Eight plaintiffs.
    • Ulcerative Colitis: Four plaintiffs.
    • Kidney Cancer: Five plaintiffs.

    This formation is a crucial part of the bellwether discovery process, aimed at accelerating the progress towards trials for personal injury and wrongful death claims related to AFFF exposure. Furthermore, the parties have agreed to a specific waiver of their Lexecon rights, applicable solely to this group of Personal Injury Tier One Plaintiffs.

  22. In an effort to streamline the firefighting foam litigation, Judge Gergel has outlined a series of tasks to be completed within the next 60 days, aiming to gain a clearer overview of the lawsuit's trajectory. The key directives include:

    Compiling a Comprehensive List:

    • Identifying all plaintiff cases alleging illnesses beyond the four diseases already specified in the litigation.

    Gathering Scientific Evidence:

    • Submitting relevant peer-reviewed scientific studies that explore associations between AFFF exposure and various diseases.

    Organizing a 'Science Day':

    • This event will involve experts presenting and debating scientific evidence on the alleged links between diverse diseases and exposure to AFFF-contaminated water. While the presentations at a science day are not legally binding, they provide the court with an extensive understanding of the scientific arguments and perspectives related to the case.

    These steps are critical in shaping the direction and focus of the ongoing litigation, offering a more informed basis for future legal decisions.

  23. This week in the AFFF class action Multi-District Litigation (MDL), the judge issued Case Management Order #26B, marking another significant step in the litigation. This order outlines a comprehensive schedule for selecting a group of personal injury claim cases to form a pool of potential bellwether trial candidates.

    Key steps include:

    • December 11, 2023 Deadline: Parties are required to submit a complete list of plaintiffs with personal injury claims to the court.
    • Selection of Bellwether Pool: From this list, the court will choose 28 plaintiffs to be part of the bellwether pool.
    • Next Phase: The selected cases will undergo case-specific fact discovery.
  24. The latest developments in the AFFF firefighting foam MDL are focused on the Telomer Water Provider Cases, a group not covered by the August global settlement of most water contamination claims. Until these Telomer cases are resolved, personal injury cancer claims within the MDL will be secondary, pending further legal proceedings.

  25. The AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) class action Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has reached a new milestone with a current total of 6,400 pending cases. In the last 30 days alone, 351 new lawsuits related to firefighting foam have been added to the MDL. Notably, approximately half of these cases pertain to water contamination claims filed by local municipalities, most of which have already reached settlement agreements. The remainder of the cases in the MDL consists of product liability claims by individuals, who allege personal injuries caused by exposure to AFFF. This ongoing increase in case volume highlights the expanding scope and complexity of the litigation.

  26. The proceedings in the AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) personal injury litigation are moving forward, with the submission of a list of plaintiffs poised to become part of the potential bellwether trial cases by the end of this month. This crucial phase involves shortlisting personal injury plaintiffs, who will subsequently undergo a concise fact discovery phase. This process aims to garner deeper insights into each case. Once the fact discovery is complete, select cases will be chosen for the first series of bellwether trials. These initial trials, pivotal for setting the tone of future case handling and settlements, are tentatively scheduled for late next year.

  27. Over the past month, 111 new cases related to AFFF firefighting foam have been added to the class action MDL. The current pending case count stands at 6,049. It's crucial to note that a significant fraction of these are associated with municipal water contamination, many of which have been addressed in the global settlement.

  28. In the wake of this summer's global settlement concerning water contamination, the AFFF class action MDL has experienced a lull. In recent developments, the MDL Judge approved a joint request to extend certain discovery timelines. Earlier, two insurance firms put forth motions seeking dismissals based on jurisdictional grounds.

  29. Judge Gergel recently identified four water utility cases from various states as the pool for the approaching bellwether trials. While claims involving 3M, DuPont, and Chemours are temporarily paused awaiting settlement approvals, firms like Tyco and Chemguard remain unsettled, thus becoming primary focuses. In the backdrop of the AFFF personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, the anticipation is high for an imminent bellwether trial schedule this month. Such a schedule is pivotal for potential settlements, given the importance of trial dates in influencing defendants. The scope of cancers covered in these bellwether trials remains a topic of discussion among attorneys. The significance of bellwether trials can't be understated as they offer a glimpse into potential outcomes for similar cases, facilitating more informed settlement discussions.

  30. In recent developments, a new Case Management Order was issued to delineate a timeline for bellwether trials focusing on Telomer water contamination. Notably, these cases weren't included in the recent settlement concerning water providers, as Telomer-based firefighting foams are chemically distinct from other AFFF varieties. The primary defense argument centers on Telomer AFFF's lack of harmful PFAS content. The tentative trial date for the inaugural Telomer AFFF bellwether trial is slated for August 23, 2024. The implications of this on the individual AFFF occupational exposure cases' bellwether trial schedule remain ambiguous.

  31. Preliminary affirmation of the settlement agreement concerning certain municipality cases has been issued by Judge Gergel. A Final Fairness Hearing is on the horizon, scheduled for December 14, 2023, at 10 a.m., which is anticipated to be a procedural formality.

  32. A recently published study in Environmental Health Perspectives accentuates the potential risk of testicular cancer stemming from AFFF exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • January 2024 saw 279 new AFFF fire fighting foam injury cases, bringing the total close to 7,000. Plaintiffs include firefighters and service members seeking settlements.

    • Settlement Progress: Judge Gergel commended 3M’s settlement that resolved water contamination cases, aiding nearly 12,000 water systems in removing PFAS.
    • Bankruptcy Concerns: Amidst negotiations, there's speculation that 3M might use bankruptcy as a strategy due to the financial pressure from PFAS lawsuits.
  • As of now, numerous AFFF lawsuits are being pursued across the United States. Many of these lawsuits have been consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) to streamline the proceedings. These lawsuits aim to hold the manufacturers of AFFF accountable for the harm caused by their products.

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