The manufacturers of AFFF are destined to fall on their own swords for producing carcinogenic firefighting foams. More civilians, as well as military firefighters, are filing a train of AFFF lawsuits against the AFFF manufacturers, including 3M and DuPont. 3M is between the devil and the deep blue sea as they are facing 3M earplug lawsuits and 3M AFFF foam lawsuits at the same time.
Do you ever wonder why there is such a hue and cry about life-saving firefighting foam? The firefighters use AFFF to smother huge fires and protect the people, but their own lives are at stake when exposed to the dangerous toxins of AFFF.
Let us delve into the details of the AFFF and how it is dangerous. You can also get a detailed account of the latest AFFF foam lawsuit update 2022.
Table of Contents
What does AFFF foam stand for?
AFFF stands for Aqueous Film-Forming Foam. It is a firefighting substance that firefighters primarily use to smother fires caused by flammable liquids. It is made from fluoride-based chemicals such as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, known as PFAS. They are desired for fire suppression because they can extinguish dangerous fuel fires faster than any other method. AFFF quickly spreads across the surface of the fuel, divesting the fire of oxygen and quickly extinguishing even large fires, and it also keeps the hot fuel from igniting again.
When compared to the AFFF, the protein-based biodegradable FFFP is very slow in providing the desired impact on the fast-spreading natured fuel fire. As a result, AFFF is regarded as unavoidable for extinguishing disastrous fires.
Is AFFF Foam Toxic?
The AFFF, while intended to protect people from fire, contains toxic chemicals that are extremely dangerous to people when exposed to them for an extended period of time. These chemicals are called ‘forever chemicals’ as they will not degrade or break down easily. Even after a thousand years, it will not degrade and will contaminate both surface and underground water. When people consume it on a regular basis, it causes a variety of serious health problems, including cancer.
The Aftermath of Using AFFF
The U.S Department of Defense (DoD) has employed the firefighting foam in the Navy and other branches of the military since the 1970s. Though by the 1980s, studies on the chemicals used in firefighting foam had discovered that those who were exposed to it could face major environmental and health concerns, the manufacturers, as well as the Department of Defense, continued to utilize the substance to battle fires, endangering civilians and military firefighters.
The firefighters are exposed to these toxic chemicals not only when they put out accidental fires but also when they practice fire extinguishing drills. Even if they wear protective equipment, prolonged exposure to the toxins is hazardous to their health.
Military and Navy personnel, like firefighters, are frequently exposed to AFF foam as part of their training and service in emergency situations. As it is impossible for them to avoid it, their health is jeopardized.
Airport personnel must also use AFFF as a part of their training to learn how to suppress fires with AFFF. As a result, they will hold firefighting drills on a regular basis.
Don’t assume that AFFF will only affect firefighters, airport workers, and Navy and Army personnel because they use them frequently. Citizens who are not associated with these professions are also at risk. The chemical toxin can be found near the factories that produce them, and when the waste seeps through the ground and contaminates the waterways and underground water, the lives of those who drink the water are also put at risk.
It can be found in the environment where the AFFF is used to suppress fires. We can breathe a sigh of relief that it is only once if that happens in rare accident sites. However, people who live near bulk fuel storage facilities, chemical plants, firefighting training sites, military airport hangars, plane crash sites, oil refineries, and flammable liquid processing facilities should be aware that they are at risk because fires and the use of AFFF are more common in their area.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a map that shows the locations of both suspected and affirmed contamination, as well as pertinent information for those who might be exposed.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a health alert report in 2016 stating that laboratory animal research proved that PFAS exposure could lead to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as other negative health impacts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFAS chemicals might be linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health effects.
A recent study has found many sites with nearby affected communities, including Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and Mechanicsburg Naval Inventory Control Point in Pennsylvania, Grayling Army Airfield in Michigan, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the Yakima Training Ground and Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, all in Washington.
How is AFFF Foam Hazardous?
Direct exposure to AFFF or the ingestion of contaminated water would make the vulnerable people to be affected by the following types of cancers.
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
As per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the continuous exposure to the toxic chemicals in the AFFF could cause the following diseases apart from the list of cancers discussed above.
- Crohn’s disease (a chronic inflammatory bowel illness)
- Fertility problems
- Elevated cholesterol
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Neurological illnesses
- Developmental changes in the fetus
- Developmental changes in children
- Thyroid disease
- Hypertension during pregnancy
Several states have banned the use of PFAS-based foams like AFFF and AR-AFFF. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are now safer and very effective alternatives to AFFF in the market like GFFF, a fluorine-free foam replacement.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act was passed by Congress in 2018. According to the organization’s aim for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families,- the FAA Reauthorization Act included an amendment that allowed both commercial aircraft manufacturers and US commercial airports to opt out of using PFAS-containing foams by 2021. Furthermore, according to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, all the departments of Defense Fire have to stop using AFFF and AR-AFFF completely by 2024.
Evolution of AFFF lawsuits
According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, 3M, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, which was the primary PFOS manufacturer in the United States, voluntarily terminated PFOS production beginning in 2002. In 2006, other companies began to phase out PFOA production. However, those who were exposed to it for a long time had already started showing symptoms of diseases caused by the toxic chemicals.
A slew of AFFF foam cancer lawsuits has been filed against the Maplewood-based manufacturing behemoth 3M, over its former PFAS production, including one that resulted in an $850 million settlement with the state of Minnesota in 2018. Analysts think that 3M has to set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to meet future settlements and court awards.
The AFFF lawsuits alleged that the manufacturers like 3M, DuPont, and other companies manufactured, advertised, and sold the carcinogenic AFFF, despite knowing its toxicity. Not only the independent plaintiffs but also many counties and states also started pursuing AFFF lawsuits against the manufacturers for direct exposure and water contamination.
All the AFFF foam lawsuits were consolidated in the federal court in South Carolina under MDL no. 2873 by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in 2018 under Judge Richard M. Gergel. Adding the 92 new firefighting foam lawsuits filed the previous month, there are a total of 2586 pending AFFF class action MDLs as of June 16, 2022. With that number, AFFF becomes the 14th largest MDL in the United States.
Earlier, as per the revised schedule, it was decided that the parties in the pool of bellwether firefighting foam litigation must complete the fact discovery by February 21, 2022, and expert depositions by July 28, 2022. Pretrial Daubert challenges and applications for summary judgment have a new date of August 15, 2022. The first bellwether trial case recommendations must be filed by October 14, 2022. The preliminary discovery in the first round of the bellwether AFFF lawsuit trials is slated to commence in March 2023.
According to a recent study conducted by the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, PFAS, the toxic “forever chemicals” found in AFFF firefighting foam, can decrease bone mineral density in adolescent boys, which can lead to bone fractures and a variety of other orthopedic problems, in addition to the diseases mentioned above. It is hoped that this will help to strengthen the plaintiffs’ claims during the ongoing AFFF lawsuits.
Stay tuned with us for the latest 3M AFFF foam lawsuit update 2022.
Defendants in the AFFF lawsuit
The following are some of the AFFF manufacturers who are being sued for hiding the dangerous nature of the substance from the government and the public:
- 3M Company
- AGC Chemicals Americas Inc.
- Amerex Corporation
- Angus Fire Armour Corporation
- Archroma Management, LLC
- Arkema, Inc.
- Asahi Glass Co., LTD
- 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.
- Daikin America, Inc.
- Deepwater Chemicals, Inc.
- DuPont De Nemours Inc.
- Dynax Corporation
- Fire Products GP Holding, LLC
- GE Interlogix, Inc.
- G.V.C. Chemical Corporation
- Kidde-Fenwal, Inc.
- Kidde Plc
- Mine Safety Appliances Company, LLC
- Nation Ford Chemical Company
- National Foam, Inc.
- Rockwood Systems, Inc.
- Royal Chemical Company
- Russell Martin Industries, Inc
- The Chemours Company
- Tyco Fire Products LP
- United Technologies Corporation
- UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation, Inc.
AFFF lawsuit Settlement amounts
In 2017, DuPont and Chemours promised to pay $670.7 million to settle 3,550 injury lawsuits related to PFOA pollution at the Washington Works Plant in West Virginia.
According to Bloomberg, in March 2020, an Ohio jury ordered DuPont to pay $50 million as an AFFF lawsuit settlement to Travis Abbot, a man who claimed PFOA-contaminated drinking water caused him to develop testicular cancer.
3M announced in March 2020 that it would establish an AFFF stewardship program to support the proper disposal of its older AFFF products.
On January 7, 2021, attorneys representing Peshtigo, Wisconsin residents announced a firefighter foam cash settlement of $17.5 million with the defendants Tyco Fire Products, L.P., ChemDesign Inc., and Chemguard Inc. for the alleged contamination of drinking water wells in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.
By looking at the flow of prior MDL litigations, the current AFFF lawsuits in the MDL are anticipated to be going towards a global settlement. The AFFF exposure attorneys estimate that the top-tier plaintiffs in the AFFF settlement will receive between $200,000 and $500,000. Second-tier plaintiffs could expect a settlement in the $150,000 to $300,000 range. Settlement amounts of $75,000 or less are likely for the third and lower tiers.
Are you a victim? What to do next?
If you are a firefighter or a member of the military or Navy and exposed to the AFFF toxic chemicals and later developed any forms of cancer discussed earlier, you stand a chance to file an AFFF lawsuit. Even the civilians who are in the contaminated area or near the danger zones have all the legal rights to pursue the AFFF lawsuit.
First of all, contact an expert attorney who is fighting for the victims of exposure to toxic chemicals to ensure a deserved compensation. To proceed with your litigation, your attorney will concentrate on the following things first.
- Gather the occupational evidence of exposure like work history and work environment to prove exposure to PFAS.
- Collate your medical records for the evidence of cancer diagnosis, including imaging and laboratory testing reports and medical bills.
- File the AFFF lawsuit on your behalf.
- Try to negotiate an AFFF lawsuit settlement with the manufacturers.
- Proceed with the legal claim in the court if the settlement is not reached.
Most of the attorneys work on contingency fees to lessen your financial burden during the lawsuit proceedings. They know that a cancer diagnosis would not simply end with little medical expense. It will add up as you have to undergo surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and sometimes expensive immunotherapy to aid the advanced treatment of cancer.
The defendants are held accountable for
- Concealment and fraud
- Failure to warn
- Past, continuing, and permanent trespass and battery
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
The amount of compensation you are entitled to be is determined by the facts of your case, such as – the extent of your exposure to PFAS-containing foams affecting your long-term prognosis and the severity of your illness. The extent of your pain and suffering if you lost earning capacity as a result of a disability caused by your exposure to fire-extinguisher foams.
You are entitled to get the reparation for the following damages:
- Past and present medical expenses
- Projected future medical expenses
- Out-of-the-pocket expenses
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral expenses in case of death of the victim
- Expenses for the palliative care
- Punitive damages for producing and selling AFFF despite knowing its carcinogenic nature
You can file an individual AFFF lawsuit or join a class action against the AFFF manufacturers with the help of experienced AFFF firefighter foam lawyers.
To summarize, while the AFFF is useful in suppressing fuel fires, the risks outweigh the benefits. If you suspect you were exposed as a civilian or military firefighter and have any of the diseases listed above, get a cancer diagnosis. An experienced doctor can detect cancer in its early stages. If the evidence points to AFFF involvement, never hesitate to contact an attorney.
The skilled attorneys will collaborate with an expert medical record review company to sort through the valuable medical records that may support your claim. LezDo Techmed has recently worked with law firms on such MDL litigations as opioid lawsuits, Elmiron lawsuits, IUD ParaGard lawsuits, etc., and has an expert team to review your records. Our extraordinary medical record reviews will ensure your victory in your AFFF lawsuit.
Let us hope that the sign of bellwether trials in 2023 will be a torch bearer for fruitful resolution for those who have been wronged.
Stay strong and continue to fight the wrongdoers!
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