It was recently discovered that chemicals in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or “firefighting foam” cause cancer. If you were a firefighter or regularly exposed to AFFF and recently diagnosed with kidney, pancreatic, prostate or testicular cancer, you may be able to file a lawsuit and get financial compensation.Firefighting Foam Linked to Cancer
AFFF (firefighting foam) is a special foam substance that has been used for decades to put out petroleum-based fires. AFFF contains polyfluoroalkyl materials which are known as “PFAS.” PFAS are chemical compounds containing fluorine and carbon. PFAS are resistant to heat and very effective at extinguishing fires fueled by accelerants such as gasoline or other petroleum products. Unfortunately, PFAS do not biodegrade and these chemicals will bind to proteins and accumulate in the bodies of humans in animals who are exposed to them.
PFAS have long been known to be a potential environmental contaminant. Recently, however, PFAS in firefighting foam have been linked to certain types of cancer. In 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a health advisory report warning that laboratory animal studies confirmed that exposure to PFAS can cause kidney and testicular cancer along with other adverse health effects. Soon after, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) performed several studies on PFAS and concluded that individuals who are regularly exposed to PFAS have an increased risk of developing kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reached the same finding and identified PFAS in firefighting foam as human carcinogen.
Any individual with long-term, occupational exposure to firefighting foam could be at risk of developing cancer from exposure to PFAS. This would include firefighters, airport workers, chemical industry workers, and military service members.Firefighting Foam Lawsuits are Being Filed
Fire fighting foam containing the harmful PFAS has been manufactured by many different companies over the years. The 2 biggest makers of AFFF were 3M and DuPont. There is now evidence to indicate that these companies were aware of the dangers posed by PFAS. By the mid-1970s, 3M and several other major manufacturers of AFFF were already well aware that the PFAS in AFFF were toxic to the environment. By the early 1990s these companies were also becoming aware that PFAS may have adverse health effects in humans, including increased cancer rates.
Firefighting foam lawsuits are being filed around the country against these manufacturers. Hundreds of AFFF lawsuit have already been filed and those in federal court have already been consolidated into an MDL class action in South Carolina. The lawsuits allege that 3M, DuPont and other companies knowingly sold their AFFF products despite the known health risks.Who Can File a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?
To qualify as a plaintiff for an AFFF lawsuit you must meet 2 basic criteria:
- Exposure to PFAS: prospective plaintiffs must be able to show that they used or were otherwise exposed to firefighting foam on a regular basis over a prolonged time. If you regularly used AFFF as part of your job (e.g., firefighter, airport maintenance crew, factory worker, etc.) you should be able to satisfy this requirement without any issue.
- Cancer: exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam alone is not enough to have a valid claim. Prospective plaintiffs in AFFF lawsuits will need to show that they were diagnosed with certain types of cancer after their prolonged AFFF exposure. The types of cancer that are most strongly linked to firefighting foam are kidney and testicular cancer. Pancreatic and prostate cancer have also been connected to AFFF use.
The AFF lawsuits will eventually end in some type of global, mass-tort settlement agreement. In this type of settlement, the defendants agree to pay a large amount of money into a global settlement fund. That money is then paid out to the individual plaintiffs based on a tiered basis. Plaintiffs in the top tier (those with the most serious injuries) get a higher amount and those plaintiffs in the 2nd and 3rd tiers receive smaller settlement payments.
In the AFFF cases, the top tier plaintiffs will likely include those individuals with long term occupational exposure AND diagnosis with the most dangerous types of cancer linked to PFAS (pancreatic or kidney ). The second tier will probably include plaintiffs with long term occupational exposure and diagnosis with a less dangerous type of AFFF-linked cancer (testicular or prostate). The third tier (and lower) will cover those plaintiffs with less evidence of exposure or use of AFFF and/or plaintiffs with less serious injuries such as liver damage.
Based on global settlements in prior mass tort cases, we anticipate that the top tier plaintiffs in the AFFF settlement will get somewhere between $200,000 to $500,000. Second tier plaintiffs could expect to receive a settlement in the range of $150,000 to $300,000. Third tier and lower will probably receive settlements of $75,000 or less.Contact Miller & Zois to File Your Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
We are currently accepting new firefighting foam cases from clients who meet the following criteria:
- Occupational exposure to AFFF (firefighting foam) for at least 1 year; and
- Diagnosis with one of the following types of cancer: pancreatic, testicular, prostate, kidney.
If you meet these criteria contact us immediately to get your AFFF claim filed as soon as possible. You may be entitled to participate in the AFFF lawsuit settlement.