Reporting by Clark Mindock, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Lincoln Feast and Chris Reese
3M, DuPont defeat massive chemical class action lawsuit for good
by aparodyoflife ·
Nov 27 (Reuters) – 3M, EI du Pont de Nemours and Co’s Corteva Inc and other makers of toxic substances called “forever chemicals” have won a major win, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday. In their fight against material liability, they rejected a lower court ruling that would have allowed about 11.8 million Ohioans to sue the companies as a group.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio, overturned the lower court’s approval of the massive class action lawsuit, which included nearly every Ohio resident, and placed significant legal pressure on chemical manufacturers to settle the plaintiffs’ claims.
The court found that lead plaintiff Kevin Hardwick filed an overly broad complaint against the manufacturers and failed to show that the pyrofluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, found in his body could be traced directly to defendants such as 3M, DuPont and other units.
The court said Hardwick’s complaint “rarely” targeted the actions of a single company, instead accusing the companies collectively of polluting the environment with chemicals.
“Rarely has this case been so ambitious on this simple basis,” Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote, noting that there are thousands of companies that made PFAS but only 10 are listed as defendants in the case.
The appeals court ordered the lower court to dismiss Hardwick’s lawsuit, which was intended to force companies to pay for studies analyzing the health effects of PFAS. The chemicals are used in a wide range of consumer products including non-stick pans and clothing, and have been linked to cancer and other diseases.
The lawsuit also sought to establish a fund to monitor Ohioans for health effects from exposure to PFAS.
A 3M spokesman said the company is pleased with the decision.
Robert Bilott, Hardwick’s attorney, said the court’s decision “is inconsistent with what we know about the history of PFAS manufacturing in the United States” and said they are evaluating whether to appeal.
Representatives for the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chemicals are often referred to as forever chemicals because they do not break down easily in nature or in the human body.
The lawsuit is among thousands of lawsuits filed against 3M, DuPont and others in recent years over alleged PFAS contamination.
3M agreed in June to pay $10.3 billion to settle hundreds of claims that the company contaminated public drinking water with chemicals, while Chemours Co (CC.N), DuPont de Nemours Inc (DD.N) and Corteva reached a similar agreement with American Water Company. Service providers at $1.19 billion.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has called PFAS a “pressing public health and environmental issue” and has taken steps to regulate PFAS, including in drinking water.
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