Type: News
Date: 08/25/2023

Taft and Lawyers Leading PFAS Litigation Nationwide Announce Significant Progress Toward Implementing Largest Drinking Water Settlements in History

Taft is among a coalition of law firms that have been working together for over a decade to lead litigation and secure settlements on behalf of those harmed by PFAS chemical contamination. The coalition has announced two significant developments in the implementation of their new settlements with 3M and DuPont-related companies that will provide benefits of up to $13.6 billion for public water providers across the country. Taft partner Rob Bilott is one of the coalition’s lawyers and has been working on these PFAS issues for more than two decades when he brought the first PFAS case in the country in 1999.

On Aug. 22, 2023, the federal court in South Carolina overseeing the ongoing nationwide litigation over damage caused by PFAS in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) granted preliminary approval of the settlement with DuPont and its related companies. Bilott serves as the Court-appointed Advisory Counsel to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the AFFF multi-district litigation.

On Aug. 23, 2023, a new website for the DuPont and 3M settlements was published, available at www.PFASWaterProviderSettlement.com. The site provides additional information as to estimated ranges of potential recoveries by individual public water providers under both of the proposed settlements.

Bilott noted that “these new proposed settlements for public water providers in the AFFF litigation represent not only historic amounts of potential recoveries for victims of PFAS contamination, but also reflect the decades of work our team has undertaken to make sure the information these companies had – but withheld – as to the threat these ‘forever chemicals’ pose to human health and the environment is finally revealed to the public, and that the proper parties are held financially responsible for the enormous damage caused.”

Bilott also serves as Class Counsel in a case brought by an Ohio firefighter on behalf of millions of Americans seeking medical monitoring and testing as a result of PFAS contamination in their blood.

Other coalition lawyers, who also have been working with Bilott for more than a decade on PFAS litigation issues all across the country, include Michael London and Gary Douglas of the Douglas & London firm.

London, who serves as Co-Lead Counsel with Bilott in other multi-district litigation and trials against DuPont in Ohio addressing certain PFAS personal injury claims, and also serves as Court-appointed Co-Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the AFFF litigation, helped lead the historic settlement negotiations in that litigation and will serve as Class Counsel for purposes of the new settlement.

“This landmark settlement is a victory for Americans who care about protecting our water supply so their families can rest at night knowing their water is being safeguarded,” London said.

With the release of the new data available on the settlement website, London noted that “public water systems across the United States can understand what the monetary aid they receive might look like and can plan accordingly.”

Douglas, who is Class Counsel with Bilott in the Ohio medical monitoring case and has served as a lead trial lawyer in the DuPont trials in Ohio and in the AFFF MDL, added, “The combined settlements with 3M and DuPont represent the largest settlement of its type in history, but we know this is just a part of the larger solution. This record-setting settlement is just one of several funding sources for U.S. public water systems to deal with PFAS contamination, including federal government funding.”

Lawyers at the Levin Papantonio law firm also have been key members of this national PFAS litigation team for more than a decade. Partners Mike Papantonio, Ned McWilliams, and Wes Bowden have helped lead trial teams and hold key leadership roles in multiple cases, including as Class Counsel in the Ohio medical monitoring case and as members of the Executive Committee in the earlier DuPont personal injury cases and trials and the current AFFF litigation.

Kevin Madonna and lawyers at SL Environmental have also been instrumental members of the national PFAS litigation team for years.

Together, the lawyers and law firms that form this unique coalition not only led the first cases in the world addressing PFAS contamination but have continued working together to pursue claims for an ever-expanding range of injured parties and to resolve those claims through innovative and truly groundbreaking settlements.

The team’s remarkable efforts in this regard have been the subject of both a feature-length documentary, “The Devil We Know,” and a Hollywood film, “Dark Waters,” in addition to the book, “Exposure.”

The team is currently representing injured parties across the country, including more than 100 public water providers, in ongoing efforts to address unprecedented PFAS damages.

While the latest milestone settlements in the AFFF litigation move the needle significantly forward, the battle is far from over; the agreements would, if granted final approval by the Court, only resolve claims by public water providers for PFAS contamination.

The legal team will continue to pursue other claims – such as natural resource damages, personal injury cases, medical monitoring, private property damage, and more – that are unaffected by these settlements.

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