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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 into the United States Federal Court in the District of South Carolina. There are 1976 AFFF plaintiffs in the lawsuit as of December 15, 2021.

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 January 3, 2022 to include the latest developments in the MDL class action, including the recent motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants.

January 3, 2022 AFFF Lawsuit Update: There are now nearly 2,000 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 the schedule for preparatory discovery in the opening round of bellwether trials in the MDL AFFF class action lawsuit that are 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 polyfluoroalkyl 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 of time.

PFAS have long been known to be a potential environmental contaminant. In fact, 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 case may be referred to as a "firefighting foam lawsuit," the greatest number of claimants are former and active member 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 caner
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate cancer

It is essential you 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. In fact, 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 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 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 cases 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 in nature 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 that 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 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.
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 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.

Third tier and lower will probably receive settlements 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 type 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.

It is true that many AFFF lawsuits are 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 product 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 gave the military the opportunity to approve precise design specifications.

In their motion for partial summary judgment filed on November 5, 2021 in the AFFF class action in the MDL, the defendants claim that they were required to used fluorocarbons in the product. Plaintiff's AFFF lawyers will argue in their response that design specification from the defendant were not sufficiently detailed. More importantly, the defendants lose their protection under this doctrine because the 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 a PFAS in AFFF.

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

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.

Not All Law Firms Are The Same

Miller & Zois is 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. In fact, 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.

Client Reviews
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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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The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
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The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
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The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa