Firefighting Foam (AFFF) Lawyer In NYC
Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) was a commonly used fire suppressant in civilian and military firefighting units for decades. It’s been used for firefighter training and in actual fires. However, prolonged exposure to AFFF has been linked to several types of cancer and other progressive diseases. As these chemicals build up in the body, those exposed face numerous health risks.
If you’ve used AFFF or been exposed to it by proximity, you could be entitled to seek compensation. A firefighting foam lawyer can explain your rights. Contact Hach & Rose, LLP today by calling (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation with an AFFF lawyer.
Aqueous Film Forming Foam Contains Toxic Chemicals
The popularity of Aqueous Film Forming Foam peaked in the 1960s when the U.S. Navy required it for all vessels. It’s intended for fires that cannot be put out by using only water. AFFF works by spreading a protective chemical coat over the blaze to extinguish it. It’s also used for fuel fires, preventing hot airplane fuel from re-igniting.
The danger of Class B AFFF is the toxic chemicals it contains: perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemical substances (PFAS). PFAS contaminates the water table and drinking water used by people who live or work near places where AFFF is frequently or consistently used, such as a Naval training base or other firefighting training area. Water contamination from PFAS can lead to an elevated risk of multiple types of cancer in users of that water source, especially when someone is exposed for a prolonged period of time.
What Are the Health Risks of Long-Term Exposure to PFAS?
Firefighters and other users of AFFF can be exposed to PFAS in several ways:
- Skin contact
- Oral ingestion
Although firefighters today have protective firefighting gear to reduce the chance of dangerous PFAS exposure, there is still a risk when using AFFF.
Some serious illnesses have been linked to the “forever chemicals” in PFAS.
- Pancreatic, kidney, and bladder cancer
- Testicular cancer and prostate cancer
- Breast cancer and ovarian cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lymphoma and leukemia
Besides these painful forms of cancer, PFAS exposure may lead to:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Fetal development challenges (for pregnant women exposed to PFAS)
- Child development issues
- Fertility problems and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or hypertension
- Higher risk of thyroid disease
- Crohn’s disease
If you’ve been exposed to AFFF, talk to your doctor right away. You may need a cancer screening. Early detection for many types of cancer often means that you have more treatment options and a better chance of a positive outcome.
Who Is Eligible for a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?
Veterans, active-duty military personnel, firefighters, and other individuals who may have come into contact with PFAS through contaminated groundwater may qualify to participate in the AFFF Cancer Lawsuit. However, if you don’t fall into this demographic, that doesn’t mean you don’t have legal options. People who have been exposed to AFFF and PFAS may be able to file a claim on their own with the help of an AFFF attorney.
AFFF Lawsuit Updates
Because so many separate AFFF lawsuits are pending in federal court, each of these suits has been consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). The Firefighting Foam MDL is being heard in the United States Federal Court for the District of South Carolina.
September 2018: The AFFF MDL was created to consolidate thousands of AFFF lawsuits. The purpose of combining so many individual cases into one MDL is to streamline pre-trial proceedings and discovery in the cases. All cases are heard before one judge. So, releases and updates from an AFFF lawsuit filed in federal court will usually be updates about the MDL.
February 2023: The state of Illinois filed a lawsuit against manufacturers of AFFF. The lawsuit states that manufacturers of AFFF pose a significant risk to drinking water. Illinois has some of the country’s largest drinking water reservoirs.
March 2023: The U.S. Air Force discontinued fire-suppression systems using AFFF. The phase-out is to be completed by October 2024.
April 2023: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer. The purpose is to track the instances of cancer in firefighters and analyze its cause. The chances of firefighters developing cancer are higher than those of the general population.
The EPA steps in
May 2023: The EPA proposed acceptable limits to the amount of PFAS in drinking water. Its recommended limit is four parts per billion. The defendants, however, objected to the EPA’s limit. They allege that the EPA’s recommendation isn’t final and doesn’t reflect the level of knowledge about the dangers of PFAS when the AFFF in question was produced.
June 2023: The first AFFF trial was scheduled to begin. The City of Stuart, Florida, filed the claim. In it, the city maintains that PFAS chemicals contaminated its water sources, groundwater, and local soil in AFFF.
July 2023: DuPont, 3M, and other defendants (AFFF manufacturers) settled multiple water contamination lawsuits. These suits were to have been tried in a bellwether trial scheduled for June 2023. DuPont agreed to a $1.18 billion settlement, while 3M agreed to a $10.3 billion settlement for plaintiffs. The settlements are to be paid out over a 12-year period.
September 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release stating the danger of “forever chemicals” like PFAS. The EPA states that there is virtually no acceptable level of safe exposure to PFAS.
October 2023: The National Cancer Institute released a study linking AFFF exposure and PFAS to thyroid and testicular cancer. A second study estimates that high levels of PFAS exposure increase the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer by more than 50%.
December 2023: Three plaintiffs have died, individual claims are delayed again, and new cases have been filed. The total number of AFFF claims is now over 6,400. Half of these cases involved water contamination and were settled in the October 2023 agreement.
The Hach & Rose, LLP team will provide updates for the MDL as they become available.
Which manufacturers are affected by the AFFF suit?
Multiple manufacturers of firefighting foam are named as defendants in the various AFFF lawsuits:
- Kidde Fire Fighting
- 3M Company
- Tyco Fire Products
- Chubb Fire
- The Chemours Company
- Buckeye Fire Equipment
These may not be all defendants named in the case. Visit our website for updates.
Bellwether Cases and Settlements
In November 2023, a Case Management Order was issued in the AFFF Multi-District Litigation court, requiring both plaintiffs and defendants to propose several cases to serve as bellwether trials. The deadline for submission was November 14. Fact-specific discovery will happen in these cases, and a final list of claims will be selected as initial test cases.
The courts turned to the municipal cases first, those relating to contaminated water tables and local soil. With those mostly settled, the MDL personal injury claims are being considered for bellwether trials or settlement.
May 2023: Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., an initial defendant in an AFFF bellwether trial, has been removed from the cases after filing for bankruptcy. The judge over the MDL, Judge Gergel, removed the defendant according to bankruptcy laws.
May 2023: The first bellwether (test trial) case for AFFF groundwater contamination was brought by the City of Stuart against 3M Co. et al. It named the following defendants:
- Tyco Fire Products
Preliminary motions by the defendants attempted to get some evidence barred from the proceedings, but the court denied the motions.
How Can an AFFF Lawyer Prove My Claim?
Your AFFF lawyer must prove the validity of your suit using layers of evidence to connect your PFAS exposure to your current medical condition. Evidence that may be used in your case includes:
Your medical records, with the initial diagnosis and when the exposure occurred. Your doctor should note how severe your symptoms are and how your condition impacts your life. If you require specialist care, like seeing an oncologist, surgery, or chemotherapy, save those medical records, too.
Your medical bills related to your condition. Also include the cost of prescription medications and treatment, as you’re entitled to seek full compensation for all medical costs related to AFFF exposure. If you need durable medical equipment, in-home care, or a stay in a nursing home, include statements of those costs, too.
You’ll also need proof you were exposed to the PFAS in firefighting foam. The defense may ask in what context you were exposed to the chemicals and for how long. If you cannot provide direct proof that you were exposed to harmful PFAS, your attorney may need other evidence to substantiate your claim. This could include your employment records if you were a firefighter (or volunteer records). If you were in the military, your military file, including duty stations, may be needed.
Compensation Available in AFFF Cases
You could be eligible to demand the following compensation in your AFFF personal injury claim:
- All medical costs related to treatment required because of the exposure
- Lost wages from time missed at work because you were ill or at the doctor’s office or because you had to reduce your hours
- Loss of earning potential if you can’t remain in the same job you had and must take a lower-paying job because of your medical condition
- Pain and suffering from the disease and treatments, like surgery or chemo
- Emotional trauma. Many cancer patients may develop depression or anxiety after receiving the diagnosis
- Diminished quality of life. Your condition can impact your ability to enjoy activities you once loved
- Loss of companionship, consortium, and guidance. Often, chronically ill people’s relationships with family suffer.
These may not be the only losses you suffered because of toxic PFAS exposure. Work with your firefighting foam injury lawyer to determine the maximum compensation available to you.
Who Is Most Affected by AFFF Exposure?
Certain groups of people have a much higher risk of developing cancer and other progressive diseases from AFFF exposure. These include:
- Firefighters, both paid and volunteer
- Members of the U.S. military, especially the Air Force, Navy, and those assigned to firefighting duties
- Families of service members who lived near where AFFF was commonly used
- People who lived in communities where AFFF and PFAS leached into the groundwater
- Airport workers, especially emergency responders and firefighters
Why Work with Hach & Rose, LLP?
A firefighting foam lawyer from Hach & Rose, LLP can advise you of the viability of your firefighting foam personal injury claim. We’ve been following these cases closely since the beginning and working with clients and their families who may have been harmed.
We can evaluate the total cost of your PFAS exposure. We can properly value your claim to account for every dollar you may be entitled to obtain. Our advice is tailored to your situation and condition, focusing on your interests – no one else’s.
Our firm delivers results, even in the most complex MDL, class-action, and mass tort cases. We’re tenacious and experienced, and we’re not afraid to fight for you, even against global corporations like 3M, DuPont, and the rest.
Our services allow you to rest, heal, and spend time with your family. We can take care of all the legal aspects of moving your case forward, including filing the initial case, associated motions, and responding to motions filed by the defense. We can also communicate with the other side on your behalf, so you won’t have to talk with insurance companies or company representatives. You can refer any communication you receive from them to our firm.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we believe in the rights of people who have been negligently exposed to PFAS from firefighting foam. We work on a contingency basis, which means that you’ll have access to our high-quality legal representation and resources without paying up front. We only assess legal fees if we win your claim.