A new article for Bloomberg Law quotes Suzanne Galvin, a partner in Thompson Coburn’s St. Louis office who successfully defends companies facing complex litigation and product liability cases, including PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) litigation.
The article details a revised multibillion-dollar PFAS settlement between 3M Co. and water utilities that limits future liability in a case involving specialized firefighting foam. The settlement, preliminarily approved by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Mark Gergel in South Carolina, involves a $12.5 billion agreement between 3M and the water utilities.
PFAS litigation is a complex issue. Galvin has stated previously that PFAS are found in innumerable consumer products. Once those chemicals break down in the environment, often over a long period of time, plaintiffs have brought forth litigation against companies arguing that the PFAS have caused health issues such as cancer, cardiovascular risks, birth defects and kidney malfunction, among others. Some of those health issues developed long after the exposure, and defense attorneys such as Galvin have noted that it is difficult to prove the initial source of the health issue.
Galvin, who advises companies on both avoiding exposure and risk minimization as well as managing the complex litigation once a company faces a PFAS claim, said in the Bloomberg article, that “unlike smoking, … the science about whether and what diseases result from varied PFAS is still uncertain.”
A fairly new concept has emerged in PFAS cases in which plaintiffs have requested medical monitoring of people in potentially exposed areas.
“Cancer clusters involving individuals who’ve drank PFAS-contaminated water may emerge over time through medical monitoring or other means,” Galvin said in the Bloomberg article.
But Galvin noted in the article that the settlement protects 3M “by saying a water utility, which opts into the settlement, can’t demand more money from the company.”
Read the full article here.
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