3M, DuPont, Others Face New PFAS Suits From Maine AG
By: Enrique Serna
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3M, DuPont, Others Face New PFAS Suits From Maine AG
This is a re-post from Law360 – Additional reporting by Tom Lotshaw. Editing by Michael Watanabe.
(March 30, 2023, 8:50 PM EDT) — Maine’s attorney general on Wednesday accused 3M Co., DuPont and other “forever chemical” product manufacturers of knowingly promoting their wares as safe despite evidence that the substances posed risks to people and the environment.
In two lawsuits filed in state court, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey alleged the companies knew that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were toxic but concealed that information from the public and continued to “manufacture, sell and profit” from their products that contained the chemicals. PFAS are often called forever chemicals because of their persistence in the human body and the environment.
“The defendant manufacturers have wilfully introduced toxic chemicals into Maine’s environment in pursuit of profit for shareholders,” Frey said in a statement Wednesday. “Maine citizens and the state are left to manage the harm these chemicals cause in our natural resources, our animals, our food, and our bodies, and the state is working overtime to manage the fallout. PFAS manufacturers must account for the environmental, health and economic damage caused by their actions.”
The lawsuits say that PFAS causes kidney and testicular cancer, and harms fetal development, including damage to the fetal liver, immune system and thyroid function.
The two lawsuits each address separate products; one involves aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, products, which are used in firefighting products, and the other involves non-AFFF products, such as 3M’s Scotchgard sealants.
The state is asking the court to order the companies to pay for the costs related to investigating, cleaning up, restoring, treating, monitoring and “otherwise responding” to the contamination of Maine’s groundwater, surface water, soil and other natural resources.
It’s also asking the court to void certain corporate transactions between DuPont and its affiliates that allegedly were designed to insulate DuPont from PFAS-related liabilities.
Chemours Corp., another defendant in the case, was formed in late 2015 through a spinoff of DuPont’s performance chemicals division — enterprises that authorities say carried with them huge environmental cleanup and regulatory enforcement and compliance burdens that are still unfolding.
Also named in both lawsuits are Corteva Inc. and Dow Inc.
Dow Corning and DuPont merged in 2017, creating DowDupont Inc., but then that company was dissolved and resulted in the separate corporations of Dow, DuPont and Corteva.
In the AFFF lawsuit, Johnson Controls International PLC units Chemguard Inc. and Tyco Fire Products LP are named as defendants, as are Carrier Global Corp. unit Kidde-Fenwal Inc. and independent companies National Foam Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Co., Perimeter Solutions LP and Fire Service Plus Inc.
Many of the same companies are targets in numerous other PFAS lawsuits around the country, including multidistrict litigation consolidated in South Carolina federal court.
3M spokesperson Carolyn LaViolette on Thursday said that the company has acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS, including AFFF, and will “vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship.”
“AFFF was a critical tool developed to serve an important need for military service members and other responders facing potentially high hazard, life-threatening challenges,” LaViolette said in a statement. “3M will continue to remediate PFAS and address litigation by defending ourselves in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate.”
Daniel Turner, a spokesperson for DuPont de Nemours, one of the corporate spinoffs and a defendant in the lawsuits, criticized the litigation.
“In 2019, DuPont de Nemours was established as a new multi-industrial specialty products company,” Turner said in a statement Thursday. “DuPont de Nemours has never manufactured PFOA, PFOS or firefighting foam. While we don’t comment on litigation matters, we believe these complaints are without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending our record of safety, health and environmental stewardship.”
Johnson Controls declined to comment Thursday. The other parties did not respond to requests for comment.
Maine is represented by Aaron M. Frey, Scott Boak and Katherine Tierney of the state Attorneys General’s Office, Matthew F. Pawa, Benjamin A. Krass, Wesley Kelman, David Buchanan, Steven Daroci and Nigel Halliday of Seeger Weiss LLP, and Kyle J. McGee, Viola Vetter, Jason H. Wilson and Gordon Z. Novod of Grant & Eisenhofer PA.
Counsel information for the defendants was not available Thursday.
The cases are State of Maine v. 3M Co. et al., case number CU-2023-121, and State of Maine v. 3M Co. et al., case number CU-2023-122, in Cumberland County Superior Court.
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If you or a loved one have been involved in a personal or product injury, or harmed by a defective products; contact Enrique Serna at Serna & Associates PLLC Today. Click Here to learn more or call: 1-(210)-865-5800