Environmental Litigation Attorneys

Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawyers for Firefighters and Veterans

In order to save lives and protect property, firefighters and military servicemembers knowingly accept dangerous risks. But many of these emergency responders knew nothing about the invisible risks of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) in the foam they used to control large blazes, like oil fires and jet airplane crash fires.

DuPont was one of the first companies to manufacture and sell PFOA-laced products on a large scale. As early as 1961, company executives knew that the chemical caused laboratory animals to develop dangerous tumors. The company noticed these same effects in humans a few years later. Nevertheless, DuPont continued selling PFOA products, like AFFF, for many more decades.

Because of the dangers of PFOA and companies’ callous disregard for the health and safety of firefighters and veterans, the attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik can often obtain substantial compensation for exposure victims.

Our professional team includes Stephen Holihan, a retired FDNY firefighter who is also a 9/11 first responder. Mr. Holihan’s unique perspective fuels our team’s ability to stand up for AFFF victims like no one else can.

The Hazards of PFOA

Perfluorooctanoic acid creates a permanent barrier between two substances. So, it was a highly used chemical in a number of products, such as AFFF and stain resistant carpet. Because DuPont blatantly put profits before people and suppressed negative information about PFOA, firefighters, veterans, and consumers did not know about the risks. Some of these direct risks include:

  • Thyroid disease,
  • Kidney cancer,
  • Testicular cancer,
  • Liver disease, and
  • Ulcerative colitis.

Additionally, PFOA has been linked to elevated cholesterol levels and a compromised immune system. These effects make victims susceptible to a wide range of adverse health conditions.

Even if the victim had another condition, such as genetic predisposition, which contributed to the high cholesterol or other issue, full compensation is usually available, as outlined below. The eggshell skull rule states that defendants take victims as they find them. Defendants cannot profit because the victim was unusually vulnerable to a specific kind of injury.

Your Claim for Damages

In a way, environmental contamination claims are rather straightforward. Victim/plaintiffs must usually prove the following:

  • Emissions or chemicals entered the environment at levels high enough to cause injury,
  • The emissions or chemicals were dangerous, and
  • Victims were actually injured.

PFOA is highly dangerous. Generally, there is no safe exposure level. Additionally, PFOA is one of a handful of “forever chemicals.” It does not break down. Once perfluorooctanoic acid enters the body, it usually causes long-term damage.

To drive these points home with jurors, our attorneys often partner with expert witnesses. New York judges use a somewhat relaxed standard to grade experts and determine if they’re qualified to speak to jurors. As a result, we partner with experts who are not just knowledgeable about the subject area. These witnesses are also excellent communicators who know how to connect with jurors.

Medical records, and perhaps physician testimony, usually complete the basic elements. If a victim developed a PFOA-related condition around the time s/he lived in a contaminated area, the jury can legally presume there was a connection.

Frequently, the victim’s own testimony helps ensure fair compensation. Something almost magical happens when victims tell jurors, in their own words, how PFOA exposure has turned their lives upside-down.

In some cases, workers’ compensation is an alternative to a civil claim for damages. Job injury victims do not have to prove fault. They must only show that their illness was work-related. 

Compensation Available

Civil claimants are usually entitled to compensatory damages and punitive damages in AFFF exposure claims. Workers’ compensation claimants are usually entitled to different damages.

The two largest components of compensatory damages are usually medical bills and pain and suffering. Many testicular and other cancer treatments cost about $30,000 per month. Typically, a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering is about three times the amount of the economic losses. 

This figure usually serves as a starting point for settlement negotiations. Most civil claims settle out of court.

Punitive damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk. As mentioned, companies like DuPont have known about the hazards of PFO for over forty years. There is only one way to get companies like this to stop producing poison chemicals, and that’s a large punitive damages award. 

Together, these two types of damages help victims obtain compensation and justice for their injuries. At Napoli Shkolnik, we do not rest until we obtain the best possible result under the circumstances.

Exposure to a miniscule amount of PFOA could mean a lifetime of suffering for veterans and firefighters. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

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