PFAS Litigation Updates



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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Contamination at Firefighting Test Site Spurs Lawsuit

Johnson Controls Inc. and Tyco Fire Products LP are being sued by the Wisconsin attorney general for violations of the state’s hazardous-substance spills law, saying they failed to report or remediate the discharge of PFAS into groundwater around the Marinette Fire Technology Center. The foam had previously been discharged into the city’s sanitary sewer system and treated by its wastewater treatment facility. However, there appeared a plume of groundwater contamination at and around the site and some time before 2013 at levels in excess of what the U.S. EPA recommends for drinking water, which had not been investigated by Tyco and Johnson. The complaint alleges that Tyco and Johnson needed to but failed to notify the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources about these elevated PFAS levels from November 2013 to January 2018. The suit seeks an order requiring Johnson and Tyco to complete investigation and cleanup of the PFAS contamination, as well as monetary penalties.

March 14, 2022 | State of Wisconsin v. Tyco Fire Products LP et al. Case No. 2022CX000001 (Marinette County Circuit Court)

In Florida, Personal Jurisdiction Exists Where Liability is Inherited from Predecessor

A federal district court judge denied Corteva Inc. and DuPont de Nemours Inc.’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought again them for lack of personal jurisdiction. The companies claimed that the plaintiff, the city of Stuart, Florida, lacked jurisdiction over them because they are based in Delaware, but the court disagreed. The court held that personal jurisdiction existed over both companies because the companies each contractually assumed the historic liabilities of their predecessor.

March 10, 2022 | In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation Case No. 2:18-mn-2873 (D.S.C.)

Hamptons Residents Bring Lawsuit Against the Department of Interior and Army Corps of Engineers

In November 2021, the Department of Interior (“DOI”) approved the construction and operation of the 132-megawatt South Fork Wind Project, developed by Orsted and Eversource, off of the coast of Long Island. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a dredging permit for the project in January 2022. Two East Hampton, New York couples accused the DOI and Army Corps of approving mainland work needed to connect the project to the grid even though it will allegedly disturb and spread existing PFAS groundwater contamination. The plaintiffs argue that the work runs adjacent to their properties and threatens to disturb and spread the pollution that is already impacting wells on their properties and also makes their properties less valuable. The plaintiffs are asking that the court find that the DOI and the Army Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedures Act.

March 9, 2022 | Mahoney et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior et al. Case No. 2:22-cv-01305 (E.D.N.Y.)

Suit Brought Against Chemical Companies Accused of Hiding Risks of PFAS

3M, DuPont de Nemours, The Chemours Co., and others were sued in South Carolina federal court by a man who alleges that he developed prostate cancer from his exposure to firefighting foam containing PFAS. The complaint alleges negligence, design defect, battery, inadequate warning, and other causes of action. The plaintiff claims that the companies performed animal testing which indicated that exposure to the chemicals caused adverse health effects. The plaintiff also claims the companies performed additional research and testing which found multiple possible health effects among workers exposed to PFAS. Despite this testing, plaintiff alleges, the companies told the U.S. EPA that there were no risks associated with being exposed to PFAS. Representatives for the companies maintain that the companies acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS.

March 7, 2022 | Sanders et al. v. 3M Company Case No. 2:22-cv-00723 (D.S.C.)

9th Circuit Keeps 3M PFAS Case in Federal Court

The Orange County Water District, along with several other cities, sued 3M and other companies in California state court in 2020, alleging their operations polluted the local surface water and groundwater with PFAS. 3M removed the state complaint to federal court in 2021, arguing that at least some PFAS releases were the result of product sales to the U.S. military, and so the company plans to assert the federal government contractor defense, making federal court the proper venue. The federal district court disagreed that the case was properly in federal court and sent the case back down to state court. The 9th Circuit reversed, holding that the case had properly been removed to federal court based on 3M’s arguments.

March 1, 2022 | Orange County Water District et al. v. 3M Co. et al. Case No. 21-55778 (9th Cir.)