3M AFFF Lawsuit
Firefighters used 3M’s AFFF firefighting foam all over the country to extinguish specific kinds of fire threats. However, long-term exposure to this foam is shown to have damaged the health of many people who use it. If you or a family member was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney or pancreas or another form of cancer that can be traced to the use of 3M AFFF foam, you could qualify for financial compensation.
As more firefighters realize the connection between their disease and their use of, or exposure to, firefighting foam, they are holding the foam’s manufacturer financially responsible for the damage its product caused. By starting or joining a multiplaintiff 3M AFFF firefighter lawsuit, you and other injured firefighters and their families can seek compensation for your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
What Is AFFF?
Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF), manufactured by 3M Company, was developed to fight specific kinds of liquid fires. The product is made from a combination of hydrocarbon foaming agents and fluorinated surfactants, according to the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC).
When the product is mixed with water, it produces a spreadable film that creates a vapor between the foam and naturally occurring oxygen that prevents liquid fires from reigniting. While Class A firefighting foams were designed to put out wildfires and some structure fires, Class B foams were designed to extinguish:
- Flammable liquids
- Combustible liquids
- Certain gases
- Petroleum grease
- Tar and oil fires
- Gasoline fires
Firefighting foams with these properties and capabilities are often used in cases of emergencies.
Where Is AFFF Found?
Firefighters are charged with putting out many fires in many different types of structures using various firefighting tools. 3M AFFF foam products are highly specialized firefighting tools and typically are used in emergency situations to fight fires in the following locations:
- Military facilities
- Chemical plants
- Aviation facilities
- Offshore platforms
- Fuel storage farms
- Oil tankers and refineries
- Liquid processing facilities
Fire departments also use AFFF foams internally as they use the product to put out fires on fire trucks and in facilities that train firefighters. Its use is limited to emergency situations, and only when other methods of fire extinction have proved insufficient or where lives are at risk.
Risk for AFFF Exposure
Firefighters do a dangerous job every day, and they are among the people most at risk of coming into contact with AFFF firefighting foam. While doing their jobs, firefighters should be informed of any inherent risks, including the risk of cancer from foam exposure. The population of firefighters most likely to be exposed to AFFF includes:
- Volunteer firefighters
- Career firefighters
- Military firefighters
- Airport firefighters
In addition to firefighters, ordinary—and unsuspecting—citizens can also experience AFFF foam exposure, which could damage their health. The communities most at risk of exposure include people who live near military bases, fire stations, firefighter training facilities, and public and private airports.
Side Effects of AFFF Exposure
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), firefighting foams can accrue and remain in the body for a long time. Firefighters and others at risk of prolonged exposure have a higher likelihood of higher buildups of the foam’s potentially cancer-causing ingredients.
The possible side effects of short- and long-term exposure to AFFF firefighting foam include the development of:
- Thyroid disease
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
Methods of exposure include ingestion, absorption, and inhalation. Because exposure and contamination can occur in so many ways, USFA researchers recommend various precautions with foam use. Precautions include post-exposure protocols like containing water runoff to protect communities, donning protective gear and equipment to protect firefighters, immediate removal and containment, and thorough personal cleaning.
AFFF Foam Cancer Risks
AFFF is made of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a potentially cancer-causing chemical. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a correlation has been identified between PFOA like that found in firefighting foams. These correlations have been linked to many potential health risks, including:
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid disorders
- High blood pressure
- Liver enzyme changes
- Low infant birth weights
- Several types of cancer
- Immune system changes
AFFF foam exposure has also been connected to a lower response rate in vaccinated children. These illnesses and disorders represent the known risks of exposure. Studies are still being conducted to understand additional health risks that might be associated with foam exposure.
What Kind of Cancer Does AFFF Cause?
The cancer risks of AFFF exposure have been, and are still being, studied and explored. Many of the firefighters exposed to firefighting foam might be at risk of developing one of the following forms of cancer, according to the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG):
- Kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Thyroid cancer
- Childhood leukemia
The risk of cancer affects more than firefighters. It can also affect members of the surrounding communities where the foam has been used and members of communities where runoff from foam use has contaminated the water supply. Exposure can also occur through inhaled or ingested foam and its byproducts.
How Is Firefighting Foam Contaminating the Water?
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GOA) identifies the following ways the danger of firefighting foam might affect the environment:
- Through water contamination in military facilities and airports where the foam had been previously used to extinguish fires.
- Groundwater supplies can also be contaminated when infected water seeps through the ground. Again, this contamination comes from the runoff in areas where the foam was used to treat fires.
- Sludge and other byproducts that get deposited on farmland and affect food supplies.
Discharge from water treatment facilities can also cause contamination. Additionally, some exposure might come in the form of industrial waste, including carpet and cookware manufacturing and food packaging. Residual use of firefighting foam is a common cause, though, and can lead to compensation once a connection is established.
How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
To file an individual case or to start or join a multiplaintiff case against 3M Company for the damage you sustained due to direct or indirect exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, you should meet the following two conditions—exposure and diagnosis.
If you or a loved one was exposed to firefighting foam, the Mass Tort Lawsuit lawyer who represents you can help you prove your work as a firefighter or in the military exposed you to AFFF. Your lawyer can also help you prove you lived in a community where you were exposed to AFFF through groundwater contamination or airborne exposure.
Your lawyer can also use your medical records and industry research and studies to prove a correlation between your AFF foam exposure and diagnosis of cancer that is associated with the firefighting foam’s chemicals.
Should You File an AFFF Foam Lawsuit?
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer or another disease or disorder due to AFFF foam, you should seek compensation. If you win your case, the money will allow you to pay for the immediate and long-term medical care your illness requires. Filing a lawsuit can help you seek to hold the at-fault product manufacturer liable for the costs of your medical care.
Winning your lawsuit can also compensate you for the time your illness and recovery made you miss work. A cancer diagnosis can be physically and psychologically traumatic. The compensation you request can cover counseling and therapy to help you cope with your diagnosis. You can also request physical and emotional pain and suffering and other non-financial damages.
Have Any AFFF Foam Lawsuits Been Filed?
To date, there are 1,976 AFFF foam lawsuits being combined into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) case, according to United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation records. In addition:
- Some states, like North Carolina, have filed AFFF foam lawsuits.
- An AFFF foam MDL lawsuit was filed in South Carolina in 2018.
These do not constitute all AFFF cases. Injured firefighters, military personnel, and others are still filing lawsuits, holding 3M financially responsible for their recoverable damages. The injured plaintiffs and municipalities allege that 3M knew or should have known about the risk its product posed to its end users’ health.
What Compensation Is Available in an AFFF Lawsuit?
A cancer diagnosis could lead to an entire range of expenses and losses. The costs of your medical care will vary according to the stage of your diagnosis and the extent of your treatment plan. In addition to past and future medical bills, you can also request compensation for:
- Lost wages and income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
If a family member succumbed to a form of cancer that was caused by their exposure to AFFF foam, you might also be entitled to recover the costs of their funeral and burial expenses. Your settlement or jury verdict may also include punitive damages, awarded when a defendant’s actions are deemed intentional or egregious.
AFFF Class Action Lawsuit
In a class action lawsuit, multiple plaintiffs come together to seek compensation from a single defendant. In this case, the defendant is 3M Company, which manufactured the AFFF foam in question. The plaintiffs are you and other individuals that firefighting foam exposure harmed.
In a class action lawsuit, many claims are combined into a single lawsuit, and the plaintiffs share equally in any resulting financial settlement or jury verdict. The attorneys in our network are helping injured firefighters, military personnel, oil industry workers, and laypersons join together in seeking compensation.
AFFF Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
Some AFFF lawsuits have been successful in cases where exposure to firefighting foam residue was the cause of adverse health reactions. Damage to end users’ health includes the development of some forms of cancer in adults and children. Settlement amounts in these cases include:
- $23.5 million
- $65 million
- $1.8 billion
Each plaintiff in a class action lawsuit is typically awarded an equal share of any resulting financial compensation. These amounts, though, may not indicate the value of future settlements. Lawyers continue to file class action lawsuits on behalf of injured plaintiffs, seeking the best possible outcome.
Firefighter Foam Cash Settlements
No one can predict the amount of the financial settlement you could receive. The value of your specific damages will be assessed, and the lawyer who represents you will explain the types of damages you can receive and the potential settlement timeline. Your Mass Tort lawyer will also clarify what you can expect from your participation in an AFFF class action lawsuit.
If your diagnosis of cancer, high cholesterol, a thyroid disorder, or high blood pressure can be linked to your exposure to firefighting foam, you might be eligible to share in the cash settlements that result from effective lawsuits with other injured plaintiffs.
Can I Afford a Lawyer?
You likely can afford to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you seek compensation from the firefighting foam’s manufacturer because many will work on a contingency fee basis. That means your lawyer will represent you at no upfront or out-of-pocket expense to you. Your lawyer will:
- Review the merits of your case at no cost or obligation to you
- Pay all upfront filing and other fees related to your case
- Not expect any compensation from you unless or until you recover damages
The lawyer who represents you will explain their contingency fee in detail, including their anticipated percentage at the conclusion of your case. You should receive details about the pay arrangement and indicate that you understand them just so that you and your attorney are on the same page. Your lawyer will also explain the benefits of working with a lawyer versus taking on 3M in a legal battle on your own.
Choosing an AFFF Firefighter Lawsuit Attorney
If you are a firefighter who was diagnosed with cancer after exposure to harmful 3M AFFF firefighter foam, you could have the basis of a lawsuit for financial compensation.