3M, Ansul, Chemguard, Buckeye, Others Sued Over Foam

Credit: George Clerk/iStockphoto.com

Credit: George Clerk/iStockphoto.com

9/16/16

By P.J. D’Annunzio
The Legal Intelligencer

Bucks and Montgomery County residents whose water was allegedly contaminated when toxic fire-fighting foam used at nearby military bases seeped into their wells have filed a lawsuit against 3M and several other manufacturers of the chemical.

The plaintiffs in the prospective class action demanded compensation for medical monitoring and property damage, claiming the defendants—including 3M, Angus Fire and its subsidiary National Foam, The Ansul Co., Buckeye Fire Protection Co., and Chemguard—failed to warn users about the dangers of improperly disposing Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF.

“For years, residents living near military bases in eastern Pennsylvania were unknowingly exposed to dangerous chemicals in their drinking water,” Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit at Weitz & Luxenberg, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement Sept. 16.

“With this lawsuit, we are fighting to ensure that the companies who manufactured and marketed products containing these chemicals—and put their profits ahead of public health in the process—are brought to justice for their wrongdoing,” Greenwald said.

An attorney representing 3M said Sept. 16 that the company had faced similar cases before and prevailed.

“AFFF is a product that was used by the U.S. military and departments of defense around the world because it saves lives—which likely explains why this product remains in use approximately a decade after 3M exited the sales of it,” William A. Brewer III, a partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselor, said in an email. “In any event, we believe these claims lack merit. 3M sold these products with instructions regarding their safe use and disposal.”

A representative for Ansul and Chemguard said they are aware of the legal action against them and other fire-fighting foam manufacturers, but said it’s their policy not to comment on pending litigation. A representative for Angus did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Buckeye. A representative of National Foam declined to comment.

The complaint said that the spilled chemicals originated from training exercises at the now decommissioned Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. The U.S. Navy has not been named as a defendant.

“The Navy has offered assistance to several impacted residents, but their effort is too little, too late,” the complaint said.

The plaintiffs instead targeted the companies, arguing “the defendants knowingly manufactured, sold, and distributed a dangerous and defective product, failed to provide proper warnings to protect bystanders, such as the plaintiffs, and failed to recall their products when they took them off the market.”

P.J. D’Annunzio can be contacted at ­215-557-2315 or pdannunzio@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @PJDannunzioTLI.

The original article can be found here.

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