Plaintiffs Reach $12.5 Billion Settlement With 3M Over Water Pollution

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Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) law firm announced talks with 3M Co., a defendant in the national litigation Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 2873, resulted in a $12.5 billion settlement agreement with the chemical manufacturer.

3M will pay a minimum of $10.5 billion and a maximum of $12.5 billion to settle lawsuits over the contamination of drinking water systems across the country with harmful per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Water providers will receive compensation to help fund water testing and infrastructure to immediately clean up drinking water supplies and fund ongoing maintenance to ensure drinking water safety. The settlement will be paid out over 13 years.

LPR was serving as co-lead trial counsel along with Gary Douglas of the Douglas & London law firm for the first bellwether case (City of Stuart, Florida v. The 3M Company, et al.) in the AFFF national litigation. The trial was set to begin June 5th, though advances in settlement discussions prompted Judge Richard Gergel, who is overseeing around 4,500 cases in the AFFF MDL, to continue the case for 21 days while the parties worked toward a resolution.

“The trial team was ready to show the world what 3M knew about their chemicals and kept secret from the public, regulators, and medical professionals alike for decades. 3M’s conduct has harmed Americans, and this settlement is a critical first step in preventing further harm,” said LPR Attorney Wes Bowden, who serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the national AFFF litigation.

“3M knowingly polluted the world with its cancer-causing chemicals that are now found in the blood of 98% of Americans,” Bowden said. “This settlement provides the critical funding needed to protect Americans and remove these toxic substances from our nation’s drinking water.”

AFFF, also known as firefighting foam, has been linked to various types of cancer, including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer. PFAS exists in the blood of most people in the U.S., according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, making the matter of contaminated water supplies of paramount importance.

“The costs associated with remediation are tremendous,” said LPR Attorney Ned McWilliams, who is a member of the Science and Discovery Committees in the AFFF MDL. “It’s vital that municipalities know they can still join this litigation to recover their costs.”

A pervasive harm went unchecked for too long

LPR’s involvement in PFAS originated six years ago, when LPR Attorney Mike Papantonio, along with Attorneys Gary Douglas and Rob Bilott, tried the first PFAS case.

Papantonio applauds the settlement and what it could mean for communities and public safety. At the same time, he shares his perspective on why the PFAS problem went unchecked and unreported for so long.

“Corporate media has allowed this to happen because they chose advertising money over the health of people all over America,” Papantonio said. “This is the most silent, massive story ever told by mainstream media.”

“Even wire services have been unwilling to tell this story because when you follow the money, it all ties back to advertising dollars. But for social media and the work of attorneys like those who have sweat blood and tears over this litigation, this story would never have been told,” Papantonio said.

Threat of jury trial forces settlement

Douglas and Bowden were slated to begin jury selection and deliver opening arguments in Charleston, South Carolina, along with McWilliams.

Days prior to the City of Stuart trial, Dupont, Chemours, and Corteva, also Defendants in the national PFAS litigation, announced they agreed to pay $1.185 billion in the first major settlement in MDL 2873, in which cities like Stuart allege that the Defendants’ AFFF contaminated water supplies with harmful PFAS.

About the AFFF MDL

As of June 15, 2023, over 4,700 actions are pending in the AFFF 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 required to incur cost associated with its remediation.

Defendants in the AFFF MDL include:

  • DuPont
  • 3M
  • BASF Corporation
  • Chemours
  • Corteva
  • Arkema
  • AGC Chemicals Americas
  • Dynax Corporation
  • Kidde-Fenwal Inc.
  • Clariant Corporation
  • UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation
  • ChemDesign Products Inc.

A Steadfast Commitment to the Environment

LPR’s current environmental litigation includes:

Camp Lejeune

Representing individuals who were exposed to volatile organic compounds at Camp Lejeune and have been diagnosed with cancers.

Ethylene Oxide Contamination

Representing individuals who suffered exposure to ethylene oxide from a manufacturing plant or facility in their community and suffered from cancer or cancer or blood disorders.

Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Assisting public and private entities in recovering costs involved in the removal and remediation of PFAS.

BP Oil Spill

Served as one of the lead counsel in the national litigation against BP, which resulted in a multi-billion dollar settlement.

Conoco/Agrico Superfund Site

Represented a class of hundreds of property owners and residents in Pensacola, Florida relating to claims of groundwater contamination attributed to a former fertilizer facility. The case resulted in a $70 million settlement.

Dupont C8 Contamination

Reached a $670 million settlement on behalf of 3,500 individuals injured when Dupont released PFOA (C8) into the Ohio River and the air around Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Dupont GenX Contamination

Represented individuals injured by Dupont and Chemours releasing GenX into the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

Dupont Spelter Contamination

Represented a class of more than 2,300 persons harmed by heavy metal contamination in the Spelter, West Virginia area, resulting in a settlement valued over $350 million.

Pinecastle Bombing Range

Represented a class of property owners harmed after bombs and munitions were discovered in a residential and school area in Orlando, Florida.

About Attorney Mike Papantonio

Mike Papantonio is a senior partner with the law firm of Levin Papantonio Rafferty. He has received numerous multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate malfeasance. His award-winning work handling thousands of mass tort cases throughout the nation has helped make Levin Papantonio Rafferty one of the largest plaintiff law firms in the country.

Papantonio and LPR’s C8 trial team helped secure a $1.2 billion settlement against DuPont, related to the company’s West Virginia plant discharging the chemical PFOA (C8) into the air and water around the Ohio River Valley and exposing citizens to this toxic Teflon chemical.

About Attorney Wes Bowden

Wes Bowden is a shareholder at Levin Papantonio Rafferty. He has been involved in multiple mass tort cases involving environmental contamination.

In 2019, Bowden was appointed to the AFFF MDL’s Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.

In 2017, he served as co-lead counsel in Vigneron v. E.I. DuPont, obtaining a $12.5 million verdict on behalf of a client who suffered from cancer after drinking water contaminated with the chemical PFOA (C8) discharged by DuPont’s Washington Works Teflon manufacturing plant.

In 2016, Bowden worked as part of the trial team that secured a $5.6 million verdict on behalf of an Ohio resident who developed cancer after consuming PFOA (C8) discharged by DuPont into the air and drinking water of the surrounding community.

About Attorney Ned McWilliams

Ned McWilliams is a shareholder at Levin Papantonio Rafferty. He litigates pharmaceutical, environmental, mass tort and personal injury cases throughout the country. He has been appointed to leadership in many of the largest mass tort cases in the country.

McWilliams is presently serving on the Science and Discovery Committees in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2873).

On March 7, 2022, McWilliams was appointed as class counsel in Hardwick v. 3M Co. et al., case number 2:18-cv-01185, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The Hardwick class consists of every individual in the state of Ohio with measurable concentrations of certain PFAS chemicals. The case seeks redress in the means of requiring the manufacturers of these chemicals to conduct robust comprehensive human testing to determine whether continued exposure is deemed safe.