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Firefighter Foam Cancer Lawsuit and Settlements

Chemicals in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or "firefighting foam" may cause various types of 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.

The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPMDL) has ordered the transfer of all federal lawsuits to the United States Federal Court in the District of South Carolina. There are 2,586 AFFF plaintiffs in the lawsuit as of June 2022.

So all AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuits in federal court will be handled by a single judge. The hope is that this is the first step towards a global firefighting foam settlement.

This page was last updated on June 21, 2022. Our lawyers include the latest developments in the MDL AFFF class action, including the recent motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants.

June 21, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: A new study in the medical journal Hypertension underscores the bandwidth of the harm these chemical can cause.  The authors of this study found a 42% to 47% increased risk of hypertension in women exposed to PFAS.  This study provides more evidence of PFAS chemicals' link to cardiovascular disease risk. The participant in this study with the highest PFAS concentration in their system had a 71% increased chance of hypertension. This study was done on 1,058 women, 470 of whom were diagnosed with hypertension between 1999 and 2017.  

June 16, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: Ninety-two new firefighting foam lawsuits have been transferred into the AFFF class action MDL in the last month, bringing the total number of pending AFFF lawsuits up to 2,586. A little over half of these new were filed by individuals claiming that their exposure to firefighting foam caused them to develop cancer. The remainder of the new cases were brought by local municipalities for alleged contamination of the local water supply.  

June 7, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update:  The plaintiffs in the AFFF class action lawsuit are asking the court to compel defendants DuPont and Chemours Co. to produce thousands of documents that have been withheld on privilege grounds. The nearly 40,000 documents at issue include internal communications and correspondence between DuPont and Chemours relating to controversial corporate spin-off by which DuPont created Chemours. The defendants have claimed attorney-client privilege and common interest to shield these communications from discovery. In their motion, however, the plaintiffs assert that there was no “common interest” between the two companies because DuPont and Chemours were actually counterparties with adverse interests in the spin-off. The plaintiffs also contend that the spin-off was a fraudulent transfer (by which DuPont dumped off liabilities) and, therefore, the crime-fraud exception prohibits use of the privilege protection. Just last week, the defendants filed their response in opposition to the motion to compel and the matter will likely be decided before the end of this summer.

May 6, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: A new study published this week by researchers from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute found that PFAS, the toxic “forever chemicals” found in AFFF firefighting foam, pose a previously unknown health risk. The study found that exposure to PFAS can cause the reduced bone mineral density in adolescent boys which can lead to bone fractures and a host of other orthopedic problems. The study is further evidence of the dangers of PFAS and firefighting foam. 

April 14, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: One bottleneck in the AFFF lawsuit is the briefing protocol for the government contractor defense being asserted by numerous defendants. The defense, which has already flopped for 3M in the earplug litigation, is being asserted by so many defendants that is hard for the firefighting foam MDL judge to hear from everyone separately. So both sides have submitted proposals for how to handle briefs on the issue. The court’s expressed goal was to receive a “single omnibus brief” on the issue, but neither of the proposals submitted so far come close to that goal. These are just the typical complications of MDL class action litigation.

March 17, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: On March 3, 2022, the Plaintiffs’ Scientific Committee submitted a letter to the judge in the AFFF MDL attaching 2 documents that they identify as “significant new scientific” evidence of the link between the chemicals in AFFF and cancer. The first was a notice from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) identifying the chemical in AFFF as a known carcinogen. The second document was a draft EPA finding that similarly identifies PFOA as a “likely” human carcinogen. Although defense counsel submitted their letter on March 15 disputing the significance of both documents, the link between PFOA and cancer is gaining momentum.

February 9, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: The defense attorneys have filed a motion for partial summary judgment in an AFFF class action lawsuit based on a government contractor immunity argument. Our lawyers expect a ruling on that motion sometime near the end of March. Meanwhile, the next status conference is set for February 25.

January 19, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: There are now nearly 2,034 plaintiffs in the MDL class action lawsuit that houses all federal court cases in South Carolina.

December 17, 2021 AFFF Lawsuit Update: The recently amended schedule for preparatory discovery in the opening round of bellwether trials in the MDL AFFF class action lawsuit that is set to begin in January 2023.

Under the new schedule, fact discovery in the pool of bellwether candidate firefighting foam lawsuits must be completed by February 21, 2022, and the parties will have until June 30, 2022, to complete expert discovery in these cases. The new deadline for pretrial Daubert challenges and motions for summary judgment is July 18, 2022.

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 poly-fluoroalkyl materials which are known as "PFAS."

PFAS are chemical compounds containing fluorine and carbon. PFAS chemicals are resistant to heat and very effective at extinguishing class b fires fueled by accelerants such as gasoline, cooking oils, paint, and kerosene 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. They can remain in the body for long periods.

PFAS have long been known to be a potential environmental contaminant. AFFF can get into drinking water and cause PFAS contamination.

Recently, however, PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam have been linked to certain types of cancer as a result of exposure.

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 chemicals 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 a human carcinogen.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Cancer - Who Has Been Exposed

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. Although, these cases may be referred to as a "firefighting foam lawsuit," the greatest number of claimants are former and active members of our military.

Scientists are still learning more and more about AFFF exposure and the individuals who developed cancer.

Our firefighting foam lawyers are regularly monitoring scientific developments that will illustrate whether those who were exposed, developed cancer and the link between the two. Please call us today if you have an AFFF foam cancer claim.

Cancers Caused By AFFF Firefighting Foam

Any of the following cancers might be linked to AFFF firefighting foam:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate cancer

You must contact an experienced mass tort lawyer to potentially file an AFFF foam lawsuit to preserve your rights and potential for financial recourse. The chemicals in AFFF firefighting foam have been proven to be carcinogenic.

AFFF foam cancer claims continue to grow as more individuals learn of the link between their diagnosis of cancer and previous exposure to AFFF. There are presently over 1500 firefighting foam cancer lawsuits that have been filed.

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 no 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 chemicals 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 lawsuits have already been filed and those in federal court have already been consolidated into an MDL class action in South Carolina. An AFFF foam lawsuit will allege that 3M, DuPont, and other companies knowingly sold their AFFF products despite the known health risks.

How long with the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits take to reach a settlement? That is a good question and the answer is similar to the expected settlement amount question. It is speculation. The firefighter class action lawsuit is fluid and our AFFF lawyers will continue to keep readers of this site updated on any new developments. If history is a guide, we can expect an AFFF class-action lawsuit settlement in the next 12-24 months.

It is not just cancer victims who are bringing AFFF lawsuits. States are also bringing firefighting foam lawsuits. Most recently, North Carolina sued DuPont, Chemours, DuPont, 3M, and others alleging firefighting foam contains toxic chemicals causing groundwater contamination.

Who Can File a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

To qualify as a plaintiff for an AFFF lawsuit, our law firm requires that you meet two basic criteria:

  • Exposure to PFAS: prospective plaintiffs must be able to show that they used or were otherwise exposed to firefighting foam regularly 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.

Other law firms may have different criteria to review your potential AFFF lawsuit.

Settlement Amount for Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

The AFF lawsuits will eventually end in some type of global, mass-tort settlement agreement orchestrated by firefighting foam lawyers that sit on the AFFF MDL Steering Committee. In this type of settlement, the defendants agree to pay a large amount of money into a global settlement fund.

This money was then paid out to the individual plaintiffs. The settlement amounts would be 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 cash settlement payments.

In the AFFF firefighting foam cancer 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.

What can we expect AFF lawsuit settlement amounts to be? That question is a moving target and, at this point, pure speculation.

Yet lawyers talk about settlement amounts of cases and we will share out speculation with you. Based on global settlements in prior mass tort cases, our attorneys 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.

The third tier and lower will probably receive settlement amounts of $75,000 or less.

Stating the obvious again: this is naked speculation. You will not truly know the settlement value of an AFFF foam lawsuit until there is a settlement. But we can use the injuries and similar types of mass tort cases in the past to make an effort to project what these settlement values might be.

Firefighting What Is the Defense to The AFFF Lawsuits?

The AFFF foam lawsuits are a challenge for defense lawyers looking to avoid spending billions of dollars in settlements for AFFF victims. So 3M, DuPont, Tyco, and the other defendants are trying to hide behind the government to say the government knew of the risks of AFFF and asked them to continue to manufacture the product.

Many AFFF lawsuits are indeed premised on the government’s use of MilSpec AFFF. Many PFSA lawsuits allege the fluorocarbon surfactant components of MilSpec AFFF were unreasonably dangerous because they contained PFAS, PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS that break down into PFOS or PFOA.

This effort to hide behind the government's skirt is called the government contractor defense, a doctrine that shields contractors from liability for damages from products meeting specific specifications to achieve military objectives. They contend that the government not only “approved” but wrote, issued, updated, and enforced the precise specifications for MilSpec AFFF that required fluorocarbon surfactant.

3M tried this very same defense recently in the earplug litigation. The MDL class action judge, in that case, rejected the government-contractor defense because the military did not request a design proposal for the earplugs and there was not a competitive bidding process that allowed the military to approve precise design specifications.

In their motion for partial summary judgment filed on November 5, 2021, in the AFFF class action lawsuit in the MDL, the defendants claim that they were required to use fluorocarbons in the product. Plaintiff's AFFF lawyers will argue in their response that the design specification from the defendant were not sufficiently detailed. More importantly, the defendants lose their protection under this doctrine because they failed to disclose what they know about PFAS risks. Knowing what is in a product and knowing that it might be dangerous in some contexts is very different from advising the military of the specific risk of a PFAS in AFFF.

The court should rule before or shortly after Christmas. The prediction here is that the court rejects this defense.

Not All Law Firms Are The Same

Many good law firms are seeking AFFF lawsuits. Miller & Zois is one of them. We are a nationally recognized personal injury and civil trial firm. Our lawyers have over 150 years of combined experience representing individuals who have been harmed by the negligence exhibited by an individual or corporation.

Fellow lawyers often bring our law firm in on their biggest or most complicated cases based on our significant trial experience and vast financial resources.

Laura Zois is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, the nation's most exclusive and prestigious group of trial lawyers. The Inner Circle of Advocates limits its membership to 100 of the nation's most feared trial lawyers and is by invitation only.

Ronald Miller is a highly regarded trial lawyer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and is the co-author of Insurance Settlements, a two-volume treatise from James Publishing. Miller & Zois has been selected by U.S. News & World Reports as one of the nation's top law firms.

At the end of the day, insurance carriers know of our reputation and willingness to take cases to trial if and when necessary.

Contact Miller & Zois to File Your Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

Our AFFF lawyers 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 if you have developed cancer as a result of AFFF foam exposure. Our firefighting foam lawyers stand ready to assist your potential claim. Call our firefighting foam law firm today at 800-553-8082.

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They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
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Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
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Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
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