PFAS Lawsuits Illustrate Impact of Plaintiffs’ Legal Theories

By: Kathy G. Beckett, James J. A. Mulhall

Published: July 14, 2021

A recent case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia serves as an illustration of the significant impact plaintiffs’ legal theories will have on those targeted as a source or potential source for the PFAS family of chemicals that are found in many significant and useful materials and products used daily. As state and federal policy are being developed concerning these alleged “forever” chemicals, lawsuits are being filed regularly. For example, a lawsuit on behalf of 23 plaintiffs was filed on July 8, 2021, in Federal Court in West Virginia that alleges injuries and damages from chemical substances purportedly found in drinking water and surrounding property in Martinsburg, WV. More specifically, a Complaint with case caption Patricia Miller, et al. v. 3M Company, et al. was filed in the Northern District with Civil Action No. 3:21-CV-105 and assigned to Judge Groh.

The claim references PFAS, PFOS and PFOA, which, in general terms, are chemicals with different molecular structures. PFOA is sometimes referred to as C8 (due to 8 carbons on the PFOA molecule). The Complaint references Aqueous Film Forming Foam (“AFFF”), which is described as a substance used to extinguish petroleum-based fires. The plaintiffs allege that AFFF contains “synthetic, toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS” and that PFAS binds to proteins that persist in the body for long periods of time.

The Complaint alleges:

Various governmental entities and companies may have questions concerning PFAS, PFOS and PFOA related to water, soil, materials and products.

The Steptoe & Johnson PFAS & Emerging Contaminants Team, comprised of lawyers and professionals with experience in PFAS issues and litigation, monitors for developments such as this new case. Please contact us with any questions.

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