3M, DuPont, Chemours Win Significant PFAS Case

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by | Nov 28, 2023

3M, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, and Chemours are among a group of chemical manufacturers that won a significant case regarding PFAS contamination as a federal court in Ohio rejected a previous ruling against the companies.

That ruling by a lower court essentially included every resident of Ohio in a class action lawsuit against the chemical companies. The Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati determined that primary plaintiff Kevin Hardwick’s complaint was too broad and did not specifically link PFAS contamination to the companies.

The court found that there are too many PFAS, which have been found to have more than 10,000 variations, to specifically tie down to the suit, in which Hardwick said his body contained trace amounts of five chemicals. The ruling also found the complaint was too vague and unable to pin down which companies actually caused the contamination.

The court said in addition to the thousands of known PFAS variations, there are also thousands of companies that produce the chemicals but only 10 were listed in the filing.

“Seldom is so ambitious a case filed on so slight a basis,” Circuit Judge Raymond M. Kethledge opened the court’s opinion.

Companies Make Huge PFAS Settlements

The ruling is a significant win for the companies that have faced thousands of lawsuits and other legal actions regarding their manufacturing of PFAS.

Earlier this year 3M agreed to a $10.3 billion settlement that would support PFAS remediation for public water systems that provide drinking water to the vast majority of the United States. Separately, DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva agreed to pay $1.2 billion to resolve PFAS cases against them.

With the focus on PFAS, or so-called forever chemicals because they do not easily break down in the environment or human body, in October the EPA finalized a rule that mandates companies report on all quantities of the chemicals they produce.

PFAS are used in a variety of products from firefighting materials to household goods. They are heat, oil, and water-resistant and have been especially found to contaminate water sources.

Complaint Asks for Scientific PFAS Research, Medical Coverage

The original ruling in favor of the lawsuit would have covered nearly 12 million residents in Ohio in regard to PFAS contamination. It sought to make the companies pay for scientific studies on the impacts of PFAS on the human body as well as medical monitoring of people who may have an increased risk of illnesses such as cancer due to their exposure to the chemicals.

The Sixth Circuit ordered the Ohio case sent back to the lower court and instructed it to dismiss the complaint.

According to a Reuters report, an attorney for Hardwick said the ruling is “counter to what we know about the history of manufacturing of PFAS in the United States,” and that they are deciding whether to appeal.

3M, DuPont, and Chemours are among the largest manufacturers of PFAS in the world. 3M has previously said that it will stop manufacturing PFAS by 2025.

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