By CHRISTIAN RICHTER, JEFF HANNAPEL; NASF/THE POLICY GROUP
A federal court recently certified all Ohio residents who have small amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their blood as a class eligible to pursue a suit against chemical manufacturers, while leaving the door open for residents of other states to be included. The suit, Kevin D. Hardwick v. 3M Company, et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and could drive new PFAS science and possibly future Superfund litigation.
The named plaintiff in the lawsuit, an Ohio firefighter, is seeking industry-funded, independent, nationwide health studies and testing to determine the health effects of numerous PFAS found in the blood of nearly all Americans. In this litigation, the plaintiff claims that manufacturers and distributors of PFAS “knew for decades that these chemicals presented a serious risk of disease and harm, engaged in a systematic effort to conceal and deny the dangers of PFAS, misled regulators and the public, and made billions of dollars in profits while contaminating millions of people without their knowledge.” The industry defendants vigorously deny the allegations.
Class action litigation has been driving a lot of the science on PFAS damages through the creation of science panels. Such suits could also provide a roadmap for future Superfund litigation once EPA lists PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Success on this claim could have repercussions in the regulatory arena and other PFAS litigation, particularly after PFOS and PFOA are designated hazardous substances under CERCLA, thereby providing clear legal authority for people to pursue cleanup actions for PFAS contamination.
Increased litigation can potentially have a significant impact on surface finishing operations that used PFAS. If you would like additional information on this issue, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This update is courtesy of the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF). For more information or to become a member, visit nasf.org.