AFFF Class Action Lawsuit: What You Need to Know

Fire Fighting Foam Class Action Lawsuit

For years, aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been used by airport firefighters and military personnel to contain flammable-liquid fires. If you were diagnosed with cancer after long-term, repeated exposure to these toxins, you may be wondering about joining the fire fighting foam class action lawsuit. A major AFFF case has been consolidated as a multidistrict litigation action known as MDL No. 2873 in the District of South Carolina, but you could file a separate lawsuit for AFFF toxic exposure.   

While AFFF has been proven effective in fighting these fires, research has shown that the agent contains chemicals believed to be cancer-causing. These chemicals, including PFAS, can contaminate local water supplies in residential communities. Those who are repeatedly exposed to AFFF may be at risk for multiple kinds of cancer. This article will outline the dangerous chemicals present in AFFF, the kinds of cancer these chemicals allegedly cause, and the results of recent lawsuits against liable companies.

Does AFFF Contain PFOA?

Perfluorooctanoic acid (abbreviated PFOA) is a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS). PFOA is a by-product of AFFF during the manufacturing process. Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are believed to stay in the environment for long periods, leading to continued contamination and potential public health consequences.  

Military Bases and Forever Chemicals

The United States has hundreds of military bases across the country with PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Personnel on these bases are believed to be at a higher risk of cancer because of exposure to PFAS and other carcinogens in AFFF and other foam-based fire fighting agents. (Disabled American Veterans)

Which Cancerous Compounds are Found in AFFF?

Both PFOA and PFAS are known to be cancer-causing agents. Both are also human created and do not occur naturally in the world. PFOS is part of the per-and polyfluoroalkyl chemical group. 

What Kind of Cancer Does AFFF Cause?

Many legal experts claim everyone involved in the production of AFFF fire fighting foam, from the Department of Defense to producers and manufacturing companies, knows it contains carcinogens.

From the 1960s onward, evidence exists that AFFF could lead to serious public health risks. Many experts suggest that firefighters are not the only victims of long-term exposure to these toxic chemicals. 

Airport workers, military personnel, and residents living near military bases or industrial sites may be suffering from AFFF-based chemicals leaking into community drinking supplies. These people may also be exposed to cancerous material through air particles or long-term skin exposure. 

Some of the cancers AFFF and other firefighting foams may cause include:

  • Neuroendocrine cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Colorectal cancer

AFFF MDL Filed on Behalf of Lubbock, TX Community

A multidistrict litigation (MDL) action was filed against AFFF fire fighting foam manufacturers on behalf of residents in Lubbock, Texas. Filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the suit alleges that PFAS have caused the groundwater near the former Reese Air Force Base to become contaminated. 

The lawsuit further alleges this contamination has spread to the surrounding residential area around the base. Improper storage and disposal of certain materials at the former Air Force base led to the contamination. Because many of the residents in this area rely on well water for their drinking and bathing needs, the contamination is believed to affect these residents significantly. 

Reese Air Force Base was closed back in the 1990s. The site is now known as the Reese Technology Center. 

Results of Private Well Testing

As of this writing, experts have culled samples from over 500 private wells to check for signs of PFAS contamination. These samples were tested and revealed that dozens of these private wells show higher-than-expected levels of PFAS. These levels also exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recommended PFOA and PFAS health advisory levels. To date, 220 whole house filters have been installed by the Air Force as a result. 

The MDL suit states that because of these higher levels of PFAS exposure, residents using well water near the Lubbock base site are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with several severe health issues, including: 

  • Kidney cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Testicular cancer

Long-Term Effects on Children

Adult residents in Lubbock and other PFAS contaminated areas are not the only victims, according to various studies. Children may be at risk of several health issues. The increased PFAS blood levels may affect these children in several ways, including:

  • Abnormal thyroid hormones
  • Negatively affected cognitive development
  • Effects on behavioral development
  • Heightened kidney cancer risk

Negative Effect on Property Values

As a result of these and other health risks, the AFFF PFOA lawsuit alleges that property owners have seen the overall value of their homes drop. Those filing suit claim the makers of AFFF and other firefighting foam should shoulder the costs involved with these health risks and property value problems. 

Successful Water Contamination Lawsuits

AFFF contamination is not the only source of environmental pollution. A local water supply can also be contaminated with forever chemicals and other serious pollutants due to negligent manufacturing as well as chemical production and storage practices. As such, dozens of lawsuits are seeking compensation for PFAS water contamination and other forms of water contamination. 

No lawsuit is ever guaranteed to succeed, however. Even if a lawsuit is successful, no one knows what the payout amount may be. But by looking at other past successful water contamination lawsuits, we can get a sense of how future similar lawsuits may progress. 

Hoosick Falls—$65 Million Settlement

The small upstate village of Hoosick Falls, New York saw its water supply allegedly contaminated by PFOA chemicals due to historic manufacturing practices. Three companies have reached a $65 million settlement agreement. 

The lawsuit was settled when the federal judge in charge of the case approved the settlement negotiated between both sides. According to the Times Union, Judge Lawrence E. Kahn stated he felt the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” 

Northern Alabama—$12 Million Settlement

Customers in a $12 million settlement allege that 3M Co. and other companies have polluted the water in the Tennessee River with forever chemicals. (Bloomberg Law)

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, accuses 3M, Dyneon LLC, and Daikin America Inc. of releasing PFAS into the river. Customers of the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority also claim the Tennessee River is their only source of water.

The settlement will pay residents, both homeowners and household members, from $50 to $745 each. The settlement amounts are for residents who paid for contaminated water. The settlement also will pay homeowners who did not pay for water up to $100. 

Providence, Rhode Island—$15 Million Settlement

Three fossil fuel companies have entered into an agreement with the state of Rhode Island to settle a contaminated water lawsuit. The agreement is believed to be a $15 million payment to Rhode Island stemming from problems with a gasoline additive. The lawsuit alleges the additive used has been linked to cancer. 

These companies used an additive called methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). The additive was intended to boost engine performance, but the companies used inadequate storage methods. They added the chemical to underground storage tanks at gas stations. The gasoline additive eventually began leaking into the ground and local aquifers. (The Providence Journal)

Burrillville—$17 Million Settlement

The year of 2001 saw the town of Burrillville, Rhode Island and surrounding areas seriously affected by MTBE contamination. The nearby village of Pascoag was forced to close the only well supplying the residents with water. The three liable companies—Shell, Sunoco, and Citgo—are paying $15 million to help with the emergency response needed to deal with the chemical contamination still affecting the area. Remediation efforts are being undertaken by the state’s Department of Environmental Management.

The $15 million settlement comes on the heels of a separate settlement involving four other companies for the same issue. Hess, Marathon, Conoco, and Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA Inc. (TPRI) are each paying a total of $2.1 million to the state. 

Firefighter Foam Settlement

In environmental exposure liability cases, companies or manufacturers often claim their products and processes are safe, even when data emerges of dangers going back decades. Makers of AFFF and other firefighting foam also claim their material is safe, despite claims and settlements to the contrary. Many studies have been conducted that now link PFAS to a higher risk for cancer.

Several forever chemicals-related settlements have already been reached. Some of these cases include:

  • Dupont, Chemours, and Corteva reached a settlement estimated at $4 billion
  • 3M’s alleged PFAS contamination of Minnesota groundwater led to an $850 million settlement
  • A PFAS case involving Dupont, Chemours, and Corteva reached a $50 million settlement with the State of Delaware
  • Johnson Controls reached an estimated $17.5 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit involving their Tyco Fire Products division. Tyco Fire Products manufactures a firefighting foam that contains PFAS.

AFFF Lawsuit Settlement Amounts

If you are considering filing a lawsuit over the physical and financial harm caused by your exposure to PFAS or other carcinogens in AFFF or other firefighting foams, you likely want to know how much you can expect for financial compensation.

Your potential settlement amount would depend on your case’s unique circumstances. Remember that no certain outcome is ever guaranteed. Your payout may be determined by your economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are financial burdens related to your exposure. These could include: 

  • Your medical expenses, including any surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, travel to and from doctor appointments, and more
  • Loss of wages stemming from your inability to work while you recover from your health issues
  • Loss of future wages if you missed paychecks due to your health condition or are never able to return to work

Non-economic damages include: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment in life 

Your intangible losses could also include other damages. An AFFF lawyer can explain the kind of damages you may be eligible for.

AFFF Lawsuit Eligibility

You may qualify for financial compensation if you or someone close to you meet the following criteria:

PFAS Exposure

To qualify, you must prove you have been exposed to PFAS repeatedly over a long time. If part of your daily job involved using AFFF, you will likely qualify to file a lawsuit. Workers who are regularly exposed to PFAS would include:

  • Firefighters
  • Airport maintenance crew members
  • Factory workers

Cancer Diagnosis

If you were exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam and were later diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer, you may qualify for an AFFF lawsuit. Kidney and testicular cancer are most commonly linked to PFAS long-term exposure. Other types of cancers that may result from AFFF exposure are described earlier in this guide. 

Firefighter Foam Cash Settlements

Legal experts predict the AFFF lawsuits will eventually be settled. However, litigation in the current MDL is still pending. Currently, several mass tort attorneys are working to coordinate the legal efforts in the AFFF MDL No. 2873.

As part of any possible settlement, the companies in question would negotiate with the lawyers for the plaintiffs. Eventually, an agreement could be reached that will pay the remaining victims compensation for their damages.

Factors Influencing AFFF Payouts

When serious health issues like cancer are involved, the victims in these cases could seek higher forms of compensation based on the seriousness of their condition. Wrongful death cases, or the cases where surviving relatives of the victims are suing on behalf of their deceased family member, can also involve higher settlement amounts. 

Many MDL settlements also make provisions to give financial compensation to victims who have not yet come forward. Certain amounts of money are set aside to compensate future plaintiffs, based on estimates of how many more potential plaintiffs may file lawsuits at later dates.

AFFF Injury Attorneys for PFAS Lawsuits 

If you choose to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of AFFF based on your PFAS exposure, you are going up against a massive corporation. These companies have very skilled attorneys who understand every loophole in the law. They may try to exploit these legal loopholes to deny you your rightful compensation. 

An injury lawyer can handle these negotiations for you. By investigating your case history, an attorney can gather the medical information needed to pinpoint a fair value for your case. If you feel AFFF manufacturers or another party is responsible for your pain and suffering, you deserve to seek justice. Fill out our contact form to get more information on your legal options.