PFAS Litigation Updates

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The world of PFAS litigation is quickly evolving. As regulatory scrutiny of these compounds increases, so, too, will the body of associated case law. From class actions to multidistrict litigation, this section will regularly highlight developments in PFAS-related litigation.

Content in this section does not reflect the opinion of Alston & Bird or its attorneys.

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Defendants’ Motion to Transfer Hardwick v. 3M Co., et al. to South Carolina for Inclusion in PFAS MDL Denied

Defendants that previously opposed Hardwick’s inclusion in the South Carolina MDL changed their position and moved to transfer the case to the growing PFAS MDL. The Panel denied their motion, finding the Hardwick claims broad and insufficiently related to the aqueous film-forming foam at the heart of the South Carolina MDL.

February 5, 2020 | In re Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2873 (D.S.C.)

Wolverine Resolves PFAS Claims with State of Michigan and 3M

Two years after the State of Michigan sued Wolverine for allegedly contaminating groundwater with PFAS, the shoemaker settled the State’s claims, agreeing to pay $69.5 million and extend municipal water to over a thousand properties that rely on groundwater as drinking water. One day after the Consent Decree was entered Wolverine settled its related claims against 3M, with 3M agreeing to pay $55 million to Wolverine.

February 3, 2020 | Michigan Department of Environmental Quality v. Wolverine World Wide, Inc., No. 2:20-cv-00144 (W.D. Mich.)

California Utility Targets the Air Force for the Costs of its Water Treatment Upgrade

California-American Water claims the Air Force should be responsible for cleaning up groundwater contaminated with PFAS from a former nearby base that used firefighting foam during training exercises. The utility seeks $1.3 million, the cost of the granulated active carbon treatment system to address the contamination.

After 3M removed this putative class action to the NDGA, Judge Totenberg asked the parties to show cause why the case should not be remanded to state court for lack of jurisdiction. After both sides agreed CAFA supplied jurisdiction, the Court decided not to remand the case, noting the inapplicability of CAFA’s exceptions due to “namely the existence of other similar class actions and the fact that the current record does not necessitate the inference that two-thirds of the putative class are Georgia citizens.”

January 21, 2020 | California-American Water Company v. United States of America, No. 2:20-cv-00144 (E.D. Cal.)

CAFA Jurisdiction Keeps Putative Class in Federal Court

After 3M removed this putative class action to the NDGA, Judge Totenberg asked the parties to show cause why the case should not be remanded to state court for lack of jurisdiction. After both sides agreed CAFA supplied jurisdiction, the Court decided not to remand the case, noting the inapplicability of CAFA’s exceptions due to “namely the existence of other similar class actions and the fact that the current record does not necessitate the inference that two-thirds of the putative class are Georgia citizens.”

January 21, 2020 | Johnson v. 3M Co., et al., No. 4:20-00008-AT (N.D. Ga.)

Panel Thwarts Attempt to Add Middlesex Water Co. v. 3M Co. to MDL No. 2873

The Judicial Panel denied Defendants’ motion to transfer Middlesex Water Co., which did not on its face raise aqueous foam-related claims, to the MDL in South Carolina. The Panel noted the claims at issue involved the manufacture and sale of PFAS more generally and expressed concern that granting transfer would render the MDL unduly complicated and unmanageable.

December 18, 2019 | In re Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2873 (D.S.C.)