Firefighter’s Widow Sues AFFF Manufacturers for Wrongful Death

The widow of a former Arlington, Texas firefighter who died of leukemia, has joined the growing number of people and entities suing the manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). Deidre Culhane filed suit last week in US District Court for the District of Southern Carolina on behalf of herself and her late husband, David Culhane, naming fifteen different chemical companies.

David Culhane worked for the Arlington fire department for 38 years, from 1979 to 2017. He passed away from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on July 18, 2018. The complaint alleges that the AFFF industry knew of risks associated with two toxic ingredients, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). These chemicals, part of a group referred to as PFAS, are persistent in the environment and are associated with numerous heath related conditions including cancers.

The suit was filed in South Carolina because the state’s district court has been designated to handle all the AFFF related litigation. The complaint alleges negligence, battery, inadequate warning, design defect, wrongful death, and loss of consortium.

The named defendants are: 3M Company, formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company; Tyco Fire Products LP, Successor in Interest to the Ansul Company; Buckeye Fire Equipment Company; Chemguard Inc.; National Foam, Inc.; EI Du Pont De Nemours and Company; Chemours Company LLC, Arkema Inc.; DOWDUPONT INC.; Kidde-Fenwal Inc.; KIDDE PLC INC.; UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation Inc.; United Technologies Corporation; Chubb Fire LTD.; and Archroma US Inc.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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