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In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2:18-mn-2873-RMG)

In October 2018, several manufacturers of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) filed Motions to Consolidate the 84 AFFF cases pending around the country before a single judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. The cases subject to consolidation included class actions, personal injury claims, and individual lawsuits brought on behalf of municipalities and water districts for costs associated with well head treatment. The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments on Defendants’ Motions to Consolidate on November 29, 2018. On December 7, 2018, the JPML ordered that all AFFF-related cases around the country be consolidated before Judge Richard Gergel of the District of South Carolina.

The cases are generally brought against manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) containing PFCs, who designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold AFFF to municipal airports, chemical plants, fire departments, fire training centers, and other industrial facilities knowing it would be discharged into the environment and inevitably contaminate surface water and groundwater drinking supplies throughout the country. The complaints generally allege that plaintiffs have been exposed to high levels of PFCs and are now at an increased risk of several health effects, including effects on the liver and the immune system, high cholesterol, changes in thyroid hormone, as well as kidney and other cancers.

There are currently approximately 200 cases pending in the AFFF MDL. The plaintiffs in these cases include municipalities (cities and counties), private water districts, public water districts, state attorneys general, and individual personal injury/medical monitoring plaintiffs.

  • On April 3, 2020, the Court held a telephonic status conference to allow the parties to provide another round of updates on discovery, including the state of Defendants’ document productions and deposition scheduling.
  • On February 7, 2020, the Court held a status conference where Plaintiffs, Defendants, and the United States of America provided updates on the status of discovery. The Court spent the majority of the conference addressing disputes between Defendants and the government over search terms and the government’s obligation to search for historical documents relevant to this case.
  • On August 7, 2019, the Court issued an Order mandating that every Plaintiff in the AFFF MDL complete applicable Plaintiff Fact Sheets, including municipalities and private and public water providers. Copies of the Court-ordered fact sheets can be found below. Newly filed cases have 98 days to provide a PFS from the date of filing. The Defendants, however, are only required to provide Defense Facts Sheets for those sites specifically identified in the list of AFFF-contamination source site locations at issue in the MDL produced by the PEC.
  • On October 4, 2019, the parties participated in a Science Day before Judge Gergel. The Plaintiffs Executive Committee and the Defense Coordinating Committee each presented experts for two hours to respond to the Court’s questions regarding specifically enumerated issues identified by the Court.
  • On January 10, 2019, the parties were before Judge Gergel for the monthly status conference. The parties provided updates related to discovery including document production, deposition scheduling, and a deficiency process related to recently served plaintiff fact sheets.

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Lilia Factor

Associate
  • Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel in In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2:18-mn-2873-RMG) by United States District Court Judge Richard Mark Gergel for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division
  • Liaison Counsel in the Colorado PFOA / PFOS Toxic Tort Litigation (Bell, et al. v. The 3M Company, et al., No. 1:16-cv-02351-RBJ) by Honorable R. Brooke Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

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