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Personal injury firms look for people exposed to PFAS from Joint Base Cape Cod

Kevin Rutherford
CC BY-SA 4.0

Across the country, more than 10,000 people — many veterans and firefighters — have joined a lawsuit over exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals.

Attorneys estimate that more than 100 who’ve already joined the case were exposed to the so-called “forever chemicals” linked to cancer, thyroid diseases, fertility issues and more while working with firefighting foam on or around Joint Base Cape Cod.

“If you talk to some of the clients they'll tell you it looks just like bubble bath or  dish soap,” Yahn Olson, associate attorney at Environmental Litigation Group, said of the foam. “And then 20 years later, you wind up with linkable cancer to these chemicals that you thought were totally, totally harmless.” 

Olson said his firm gets hundreds of new client inquiries each month as the lawsuit grows, and they’re hoping to go to trial in the next two years. PFAS litigation has been compiled into what’s called a multidistrict litigation, which is similar to a class action, Olson said. “The main difference being that the claims are individualized. So every single person who submits a complaint, they have their own case.”

Claims over the same injuries and causation from all over the country have been put in one federal court. It’s a useful strategy, Olson said, for individual plaintiffs who don’t have the resources to successfully sue PFAS manufacturers, like 3M and Dupont.

In a statement, a spokesperson for 3M said the company addressed the litigation by saying the company is working on its impact.

“As the science and technology of PFAS, societal and regulatory expectations, and our expectations of ourselves have evolved, so has how we manage PFAS. We have and will continue to deliver on our commitments – including remediating PFAS where appropriate, investing in water treatment, and collaborating with communities,” the spokesperson said. "3M will address PFAS litigation by defending itself in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate.“

Olson said many of his clients hope to at least walk away with money for their healthcare bills.

“I have to have the conversations about, ‘What happens if I die before this litigation ends?’ [I do that] more than I’d like to. I mean, they've got Stage 4 lymphoma or something, and they really want to get some money before they die,” he said. “And they want to hold  3M accountable.” 

Those interested can contact the Environmental Litigation Group at 205.328.9200 or 800.749.9200.

To assess eligibility for compensation due to illness resulting from AFFF exposure, the legal team requires access to your employment or military records, which you'll need to obtain, as well as your medical records. Also, you can check your eligibility here, and they will check if you qualify free of charge.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.