The AFFF Lawsuit Protects Those Who Protect Us
The AFFF lawsuits started in 2018 after some firefighters claimed that they had been
diagnosed with cancer after having been exposed to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF then, started to pile up in the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). By January 2023, the number of cases accumulated reached 3,387.
What is the Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) and how does
This foam is a special type of fire suppressant designed specifically to combat flammable liquid fires, among which we can list the fires generated by jet fuel, gasoline, and other hydrocarbons. AFFF produces a thin watery film that spreads quickly across the surface of the flammable liquid. The foam works in the following way:
● Isolation of fuel: The aqueous film acts as a barrier between the flammable liquid
and the air. So, it separates the fuel from the oxygen it needs to burn. Without this,
fire is suppressed because the combustion process is interrupted.
● Cooling: The water inside the foam helps to cool down the fuel and area around it,
which reduces the probability of generating a new fire.
● Suppressing vapor: The vapor the flammable liquids release is one of the biggest
dangers. These vapors can ignite and make fires spread. The foam blanket formed
by AFFF acts as a vapor suppressant and reduces the release of these flammable
vapors. This blanket remains in place even on volatile and agitated fuel surfaces.
This ensures longer protection against re-ignition.
● Prevention of re-ignition: As the foam creates a barrier on top of the flammable
liquid, the fire is less likely to restart even if there are still potential sources around.
AFFF is highly effective and has been of great support in firefighting operations, have arisen due to its environmental and health impacts, primarily because of the PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) content. Among these health impacts, cancer has been the most worrying among users and this gave birth to the AFFF lawsuit in 2018.
What is the present AFFF lawsuit situation?
According to the last AFFF lawsuit update in 2023, there are still thousands of cases waiting for a resolution. However, the company 3M has recently come to an agreement in the lawsuits where victims claim that the toxic “forever chemicals” have contaminated the water supplies in the United States.
In the statement released by the company, 3M is going to pay public water suppliers up to $10.3 billion in a period of 13 years as part of the settlement. This is compensation for the detection of certain substances in drinking water across the nation.
June 5th was the date for the trial of the AFFF class action lawsuit. However, the trial has been postponed because of a joint motion filed by the company 3M and the Plaintiff
Leadership Committee. In the presented motion it was stated that the negotiations were
going well and were about to reach a resolution. Consequently, the attorneys considered it a good idea to continue with the settlement instead of focusing on the trial preparations.
The AFFF lawsuit status can be explained in the following points:
Settlement with 3M: As mentioned before, 3M has agreed to a settlement. Before the start of the first trial related to the AFFF lawsuit, 3M reached an agreement to compensate public water suppliers up to $10.3 billion over a 13-year span. This is in response to the discovery of specific chemicals in drinking water throughout the country.
As a result, the trial for the AFFF class action lawsuit, which was scheduled for June 5th, 2023, has been postponed.
Increasing cases: As of February 2023, there were 3,704 pending cases in the MDL. By March 2023, new cases continued to emerge, highlighting the ongoing concerns related to AFFF exposure.
Bellwether trial: The first Bellwether trial focuses on water supply contamination and is pivotal as its outcomes might influence evidence presented in subsequent cancer-related lawsuits.
Challenges on evidence: Some defendants, as of January 2023, were attempting to be excluded from the first bellwether trial. They contested that the scientific experts have enough evidence to establish a connection between the products and the reported health issues.
The AFFF lawsuit remains a significant and evolving legal matter, with an escalating number of cases and a major settlement from 3M. The outcomes of the bellwether trials will be instrumental in shaping future settlements and litigation strategies.