Judge delays 3M 'forever chemicals' trial after 3 other companies announce settlement
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A federal judge has delayed the trial of a claim that “forever chemicals” made by 3M, a multinational conglomerate corporation, contaminated the municipal water system in Stuart, Florida.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel of the District of South Carolina delayed the trial after he was told that a settlement “is achievable in the near future,” Reuters reports.
About 4,000 lawsuits have been filed and consolidated before Gergel related to contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are known as PFAs. The 3M case was to be the first to go to trial.
The Stuart, Florida, suit targeted PFA contamination from firefighting foam. PFAs are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they take a long time to break down. The chemicals are also used in nonstick coatings, cosmetics and other products.
Three other companies—DuPont de Nemours Inc. and its spinoff companies the Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc.—said Friday they have reached a $1.19 billion agreement in principle to settle claims related to PFAs in water supplies, according to Reuters, Law360, Law.com and the New York Times.
The proposed settlement would cover the cleanup of water systems that have already detected PFAs, would pay for testing of other systems, and would pay when the test results show contamination, according to Law360. It would not cover claims related to environmental damage and would not cover suits by people claiming injuries from the chemicals, according to the New York Times.
3M has said PFAs are safe. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited studies showing that exposure to certain PFAs may increase the risk of some cancers, cause developmental delays in children and decrease fertility.