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November 28, 2023
2 Min Read
The massive class action suit is a big win for the chemical companies.Image courtesy of Francesco Scatena / iStock / Getty Images Plus
A US appeals court on Monday handed 3M, Corteva Inc. subsidiary E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., and other manufactures of toxic so-called "forever chemicals" a big win in their fight against legal liability for the substances.
The Cincinnati, OH-based 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lower court's approval of the massive class action, which included virtually every resident of Ohio (about 11.8 million people), and put considerable legal pressure on the chemical manufacturers to settle the plaintiffs' claims.
The court found that lead plaintiff Kevin Hardwick filed too broad a complaint against the manufacturers, and had not shown per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, found in his body could be traced directly to defendants including 3M, DuPont, and others.
The appeals court instructed the lower court to dismiss Hardwick's lawsuit, which had aimed to force the companies to pay for studies analyzing the health impacts of PFAS.
The lawsuit also sought to establish a fund to monitor Ohio residents for health impacts from PFAS exposure.
During the year, 3M and DuPont had planned to pay out various settlements regarding PFAS in drinking water systems.
In Summer 2023, 3M and DuPont de Nemours planned to pay out multibillion-dollar settlements to resolve lawsuits with municipal water suppliers over the companies’ role in contaminating drinking water supplies. The agreement seemed to conclude the first phase of the extensive firefighting foam multidistrict litigation (MDL) in South Carolina federal court.
However, municipalities and states throughout the country have begun filing official objections to the proposed settlements, which received preliminary court approval in August 2023. The objectors assert that the terms of the settlement texts are inadequate, unreasonable, and unfair, and raise concerns about their potential to derail pending and future actions.
This isn't the first time issues with PFAS in water systems has been on the settlement table. In 2004, DuPont agreed to pay up to $343 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the chemical company of contaminating drinking water supplies in Ohio and West Virginia with a processing agent used to make Teflon -- which we now know as PFAS.
In 2017, DuPont was under fire again. Lawyers stated the chemical has spewed into the air and Ohio River from DuPont's Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, WV, since the 1950s. The lawyers said the company knew since 1980 that it caused cancer in rats. About 200 plaintiffs with cancer were to receive around $1 million each. Those with high cholesterol were expected to receive awards in the five figures.
About the Author(s)
Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.
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