Two More AFFF Toxic Tort Suits Filed

Two more AFFF toxic tort lawsuits are in the fire law news today. In New York state, the Hampton Bays Fire District has filed suit against thirty named manufacturers of aqueous film forming foam. The suit alleges that AFFF caused contamination of the soil and groundwater at the district’s facilities.

The suit was originally filed in New York County Supreme Court, and removed by the foam manufacturers to US District Court for the Southern District of New York. AFFF contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Quoting from the complaint:

  • PFOS and PFOA are fluorosurfactants that repel oil, grease, and water.
  • PFOS, PFOA, and/or their chemical precursors, are or were components of AFFF products, which are firefighting suppressant agents used in training and firefighting activities for fighting Class B fires.
  • Class B fires include fires involving hydrocarbon fuels such as petroleum or other flammable liquids.
  • PFOS and PFOA are mobile, persist indefinitely in the environment, bioaccumulate in individual organisms and humans, and biomagnify up the food chain.
  • PFOS and PFOA are also associated with multiple and significant adverse health effects in humans, including but not limited to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

The suit seeks compensation for the costs of cleanup and other damages. Here is a copy of the complaint and the removal notice.

The second suit was filed by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul seeking reimbursement from the foam manufacturers for the state’s investigations and cleanup costs associated with AFFF. The suit was filed in Dane County Circuit Court naming 18 foam manufacturers as defendants.

Both suits will likely end up at the US District Court for the District of South Carolina, which has been designated as the federal court to handle the explosion of AFFF toxic tort suits. According to the court’s web site, over 500 AFFF related cases are pending before it. Here is more on the designation of this court to handle these AFFF related cases.

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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