Court Allows Expert Testimony in First AFFF Bellwether Trial Against 3M

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Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) law firm announces that the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina Charleston Division has rejected 3M’s omnibus motion to exclude expert testimony at a trial in which the City alleges that the Defendants’ aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) contaminated the city’s water supply with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

District Court Judge Richard Gergel’s order affirmed that the testimony presented by experts on behalf of the City of Stuart is “the product of reliable principles and methods,” as governed by the Daubert standard.

“Winning a Daubert motion requires a hyper-focus on methodology,” said LPR Attorney and Shareholder Wes Bowden, who together with LPR Attorney and Shareholder Ned McWilliams, is representing the City of Stuart (Plaintiff) in multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2873) against 3M and other Defendants.

“We had a strong offensive strategy going into this hearing,” Bowden continued. “We had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that our experts possess the level of expertise required by law and that their testimony is based on reliable methodologies. We were committed, and we established the relevance and reliability of our experts’ testimony.”

The outcome of a Daubert challenge in City of Stuart v. 3M is significant on many levels, according to McWilliams. “This is a scientifically complex case, and moving through this challenge has given us valuable insight as to what extent the jury will understand the elements of issue,” McWilliams said. “It’s incredibly significant, especially in the first bellwether trial for this MDL.”

About City of Stuart vs. 3M

City of Stuart, Fl. v. 3M Co. et al., (No. 2:18-cv-03487) is a bellwether case in MDL No. 2873, In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation. More than 4,100 cases have been filed in the MDL and centralized in the U.S. District Court District of South Carolina for pretrial proceedings presided over by Judge Richard Gergel.

The AFFF MDL is a mass tort brought on behalf of water providers and other individuals who have been harmed by exposure to AFFF and/or are required to incur costs associated with its remediation.

Three bellwether cases were selected to proceed to trial in 2023. The City of Stuart was chosen to be the first bellwether trial. Municipalities in all the bellwether cases allege that PFAS manufacturers, AFFF manufacturers, and suppliers are liable for remediation costs from drinking water sources being polluted with PFAS AFFF.