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August 26, 2020

Michigan Attorney General Files Firefighting Foam Lawsuits in State and Federal Courts

Michigan’s Attorney General filed two new lawsuits in the federal and state courts over damages to the state caused by toxic firefighting foam known as AFFF. AFFF—aqueous film-forming foam, has been found to contain dangerous chemicals that not only contaminated Michigan’s resources but caused severe side effects in persons exposed to the foam.

Attorney General Dana Nessel filed these latest complaints on August 20, following a similar lawsuit the state brought forward in January. The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and the state lawsuit was filed in the Michigan Circuit Court in Ingham County.

Health officials have discovered Class B AFFF firefighting foam contains toxic substances known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, otherwise known as PFAS. These man-made chemicals, called “forever chemicals,” can build up inside the environment and human body and never break down. In fact, studies show this build-up can cause severe side effects including decreased fertility, liver damage, and an increased risk of cancer.

While each of Nessel’s claims raises similar allegations that AFFF manufacturers sold toxic firefighting foam to consumers, the state lawsuit goes after commercial-grade AFFF manufacturers who sold their products in Michigan. The federal lawsuit goes after AFFF manufacturers who sold toxic foam to the military, who used the firefighting foam at bases across the state.

“These actions continue my office’s efforts to protect our residents and our state’s natural resources and property from the dangers posed by PFAS in the environment,” said Nessel in a press release from his office. “As with the lawsuit already filed for PFAS contamination from non-AFFF sources, these lawsuits seek recovery of damages, remediation costs and other relief needed due to PFAS contamination from AFFF in the State of Michigan. Michigan taxpayers should not have to pay for this massive undertaking – those who profited from the manufacture and sale of these harmful chemicals should.” 

While the full extent of AFFF damage on Michigan’s environment and public health is unknown, local wells used for drinking water have tested positive for PFAS, especially wells located near military bases and airports, which use firefighting foam. The state of Michigan alleges AFFF manufacturers knew about the health risks of PFAS and knowingly sold toxic foam to the public without proper warning.  

“The companies that made and sold AFFF knew about the risks to human health and the environment resulting from use of these foams, yet they continued to sell them without warning buyers of the danger,” said Liesl Clark, Director of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “In keeping with our legislative mandate that parties responsible for pollution should pay for clean-up, the State is seeking compensation from the companies who profited from the sale of AFFF that now contaminates Michigan’s environment.” 

Firefighting foam manufacturers named in this lawsuit, among others, include Dupont, Tyco, and 3M Company.

Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

Firefighting foam containing PFAS has been sold in the U.S. since approximately the 1940s. Notably, industrial settings and the military used Class B AFFF foam to fight and train to fight petroleum-based fires, which cannot be controlled by water alone. Now, across the United States, increasing individuals are stepping forward, claiming their cancer diagnoses and injuries were caused by exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam.

According to these lawsuits, AFFF manufacturers knew that PFAS in their foam could cause serious health conditions and failed to warn the public of the risks. Injured firefighters and consumers are seeking to recover compensation for injuries caused by toxic firefighting foam, including pain & suffering, lost wages, and medical monitoring.

If you were exposed to toxic firefighting foam and developed cancer, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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