For decades, firefighters, including military and civilian units, used Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) to suppress fires. AFFF firefighting foam was used in both actual fires and training exercises across multiple organizations. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals found in AFFF can build up in the body over time and negatively impact overall human health. If you were exposed to these toxic firefighting foam chemicals, you have a substantially increased risk of developing several serious, life-threatening illnesses, including cancer.
If you have already been diagnosed with cancer or another illness after exposure to the toxic chemicals in firefighting foam, you could file an AFFF lawsuit against negligent manufacturers such as Tyco, 3M, Dupont, and others. Our team can help.
The Mass Tort Lawyers at Dolman Law Group Have the Resources to Handle Your AFFF Lawsuit
At Dolman Law Group, we want to help Americans who have faced severe illness due to AFFF foam exposure receive the compensation they deserve. Potential firefighting foam exposure victims include airport and military firefighters, as well as local first responders and those living near areas where AFFF foam was used. Our firefighting foam lawyers proudly serve as members of the legal team on over 60 AFFF lawsuits.
If you were exposed to firefighting foam and you are facing a cancer diagnosis related to AFFF exposure, contact the experienced firefighting foam lawsuit attorneys at Dolman Law Group today to learn more about your legal rights.
Our AFFF Cancer Attorneys Can Help You Successfully File an AFFF Lawsuit
By working with an attorney, many victims find that they can substantially increase the compensation they will receive for their injuries and suffering. An attorney can build a solid lawsuit, gather the information you need to prove your claim, and aggressively pursue the monetary compensation you deserve for your physical and emotional suffering related to your diagnosis.
Video Transcript: Firefighting Foam Lawsuits: Everything You Need to Know About AFFF
In this video, I'm going to discuss the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit. This is an MDL, a multi-district litigation lawsuit, that... and what MDL, by the way, means is that all the lawsuits in the country are being filed in one federal court, and that's in South Carolina. Stan, what is going on? Explain what does AFFF stand for, first off?
AFFF stands for Aqueous Film Forming Foam. Okay. And it's really a firefighting chemical foam that's really effective. Okay. It's used to fight fires, used to fight fires at a lot of airports and it's got some really good properties to it that made it super effective, which is why it had such widespread use. One of the things that we found out though is that over time, some of the chemicals that make this Aqueous Film Forming Foam so effective are also extremely harmful to people and almost impossible to get rid of and clean up, and have now gained the term, the sort of nomenclature known as "forever chemicals." So, Matt, tell us a little bit, what's a forever chemical? What's that mean?
Yeah. PFAS and PFOS, those are known as forever chemicals, and what that means is, for lack of a better way of saying this, it's almost impossible for them to break down their components. So they last for a long period of time. They have such an insidious effect. And what we're seeing is that it just doesn't just affect the individuals who are using the foam. It gets into the aquifer, which is the water source. So it's affecting individuals who not only lived at these military base because, again, the AFFF firefighting foam, that's used to treat or to contain liquid flammable fires. You're generally seeing those at airports or at military bases. These are not traditionally used by commercial and private firefighters.
So, the issue that we're seeing is these chemicals do not break down. They're incredibly destructive organic chemicals that last for 20, 30, 40 years. And once they get into the aquifer, they're affecting not only individuals at the base, but in all the ancillary regions around that area. So all the surrounding adjacent properties, it gets into the community, so individuals who reside near that military base. These are used all over the country at number of different military bases. And the AFFF is used commonly by firefighters to practice on drills regularly. So they're routinely exposed and it gets into the water source, into the groundwater, and it just has such insidious effects over time.
A number of different cancers are related to AFFF, and these lawsuits are being filed. They're not a significant amount of it. This is not like a commercial product that's being sold over the counter like Zantac. So if you're used to mass tort litigation, you're watching these commercials on TV, you're probably not going to see any AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit commercials. There's just not a whole lot of them, but to those individuals, those veterans, they're family members and private contractors that have suffered, and the individuals living in adjacent properties, the disease are just that they're awful. Stan, what are we seeing?
Well, we see the number of different diseases and issues that are affecting the firefighters. But I think the one thing that's important that you mentioned is these chemicals being forever chemicals, you can't get rid of them. You can move them around. You can dig them up, you can push them, but you can't get rid of them. And that's where you have the problem is that it's like asbestos, kind of, is that even when you get it, you may know it's there, you may identify it. Getting rid of it's a problem. It's a hazard to clean up. We can find a number of different cancers and other exposure ailments happen even in the cleanup process, aside from the people who were exposed to it. You'll see municipalities, airports, huge different industries have these big claims for cleanup of these chemicals because the task can take tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, to get them out of the ground. And they're spending the money to do this because they now know these chemicals are so dangerous, have such potential to cause harm, and when they do cause harm, it's significant.
We're seeing two types of AFFF, or for lack of a better way of saying this, the PFOS and PFAS cases being filed. We're seeing them on behalf of municipalities against these manufacturers. So City A, you can just insert name of city, is filing it based on destruction of their water source that they've gone into their water aquifer, or private citizens, individuals or veterans, family members, private contractors, or individuals that live in those areas who were affected. We're handling on behalf of individuals, so these are claims we're handling. This is a multi-district litigation, meaning that all the lawsuits in the country are being filed in one court and that's in South Carolina.
These cases are coming up quickly for what are known as bellwether trials, and a bellwether trial is where the plaintiff and defense bar have come to an agreement that they're going to try a certain amount of cases, usually between eight and 12 cases, based on specific parameters. They'll agree to the issues that they want to see... that's why they call bellwether, what the jury's going to do with these certain fact patterns. And if it goes plaintiff or if it goes defense, that will sway how these cases are going to be negotiated going forward. Or if there's a mid-range, it kind of gives us an idea of what these cases are worth.
We're approaching that area now and what we're going through at this very moment is the Daubert hearings. Those are scientific hearings where we're relating specific diseases to the incident that took place, which in the incident is the use of the AFFF firefighting foam, being able to prove that you were either at the military base or living nearby, and then being able to show that cancer, that disease, that neurological impediment is now related to that the use of AFFF firefighting foam. So certain diseases may pass muster, some there might not be enough scientific evidence based on a peer reviewed medical literature. And that's where we're at right now with the AFFF lawsuit. Any other issues you're seeing, Stan?
No, I think you pretty much hit on most of it. Like we say, the AFFF is more of a condensed group of people because they're not as widely exposed as some of the Campo LeJeune and other mass torts we're working on. But the injuries can be significant and the harm that's caused to people from these chemicals can be extremely significant.
You might be on our website right now or you could be seeing this video on YouTube. If you have any questions and for a free consultation or free case review, you can reach us right away to discuss a firefighting foam lawsuit. Stan, what's the number they can reach us at?
The number they can reach us at is 1-855-332-7274, and anyone who answers the phone there can help you with your class action lawsuit for firefighting foam. You go your AFFF lawsuit, firefighting foam lawsuit, whatever you want to call it, just let them know what you're calling it about and we'll take care of it.
Yep. We have a very robust website that has a lot of information about AFFF. It's www.dolmanlaw.com, D, like in David, O-L-M-A-N-L-A-W .com. I really appreciate your time. And again, if you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to either Stan or myself. Thank you.
First, the Basics. What Is Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)?
As the Environmental Research Institute of the States (ERIS) explained, AFFF firefighting foam rose to popularity in the 1960s, with the U.S. Navy requiring all its vessels to carry the product. AFFF is useful in fighting fires not effectively extinguished with water alone. The product helps form a protective blanket that smothers a fire when water alone cannot put it out.
Class B AFFF, commonly used for firefighting, contains perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemical substances, or PFAS. These chemicals contaminate groundwater and, ultimately, the drinking water used by people living and working in the area where AFFF contamination occurs. In some firefighting products still used today, these chemicals still appear, despite the known cancer risks.
When developed, Aqueous Film Forming Foam helped suppress fires faster than other available methods. Many installations still use it for that purpose. For example, the Department of Defense utilizes firefighting foam because on ships and on aircraft, the close proximity of people, fuel, and munitions can be especially dangerous.
AFFF firefighting foam works quickly by spreading out over the surface of the fuel, depriving the fire of oxygen, and quickly extinguishing even large fires. The foam also prevents the hot fuel from reigniting. So far, only AFFF that contains fluorine chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are capable of putting out dangerous fuel fires fast and keeping them out.
PFAS in AFFF Makes the Foam Toxic
Unfortunately, the same attributes that make PFAS desirable in small spaces or dangerous circumstances also make them incredibly dangerous for humans. These fire suppression chemicals heighten the risk of cancer in people who face exposure to them, especially people who face considerable exposure over a long time.
Which Illnesses Have Been Linked to AFFF?
Two PFAS chemicals or compounds are found in firefighting foam; perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS compounds are known as "forever chemicals" due to how slowly they break down in both the environment and the human body over time. When an individual is exposed to PFAS compounds over an extended period of time, the chemicals will accumulate in the body.
PFAS contamination is so common throughout the U.S., thanks to AFFF and other common products, including non-stick cookware and stain-resistant carpeting, that most people contain the substance in their blood.
Long-term exposure to PFAS has been associated with many illnesses, including:
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) notes that those exposed to AFFF can also suffer from illnesses such as asthma, fertility issues, high blood pressure, fetal and child development changes, and an increased risk of thyroid disease. Compensation is only available for these additional issues if the sufferer has also been diagnosed with one of the cancers on this list.
Many people who are suffering from these serious conditions after AFFF exposure have initiated legal action to recover their losses. If you have questions about your legal rights, reach out to a dedicated AFFF lawsuit lawyer today.
The Firefighting Foam Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is Created
With so many AFFF lawsuits pending in federal court, each AFFF lawsuit has been consolidated into one multidistrict litigation (MDL). Judge Richard M. Gergel in the United States Federal Court for the District of South Carolina is presiding as the judge in charge of the MDL. The purpose of an MDL is to consolidate all federal AFFF lawsuits that may have been filed in different circuits throughout the U.S. and bring them in front of one Judge to make discovery and pre-trial proceedings more efficient.
While some may refer to the proceedings as an AFFF class action lawsuit, it is actually an MDL. In a class action lawsuit, all claimants allege the same or very similar injury. The various AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits involve a wide array of different cancers and medical issues arising from AFFF exposure. We are closely following this MDL as it progresses, and we will continue to share updates as they happen.
Bookmark this page and return often to learn the latest information and technical details about the pending firefighting foam AFFF lawsuit.
AFFF Lawsuit Update - September 2023
September 8, 2023 - AFFF Multi-District Litigation Grows to 5,614 Cases, New Study and EPA Confirm the Dangers Associated with AFFF Foam
Over the past two months, the Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) MDL has seen a significant influx of cases, with approximately 1,000 new cases added to the docket. Additionally, a recent study discussed the concerning connection between exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly found in AFFF, and testicular cancer. This study, particularly relevant to U.S. Air Force servicemen, underscores the urgent need for addressing the pending AFFF lawsuits.
In response to Judge Gergel's request for up-to-date information, plaintiffs' counsel have submitted a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA's release reaffirms the potential carcinogenic nature of PFAS chemicals, often referred to as "forever chemicals," emphasizing that there is no acceptable level of exposure or consumption for these substances.
Meanwhile, the global settlement related to municipal AFFF water contamination is moving along. Our team hopes that settling the municipal cases will serve as a promising precedent for the individual personal injury cases that are still awaiting resolution.
August 1, 2023 - One Plaintiff Has Died, Court Allows Substitution
Sadly, a plaintiff who brought an AFFF lawsuit in Alabama that was transferred into the MDL has passed away while this litigation is still pending. The plaintiff's daughter has been substituted into the MDL to act on his behalf. As this litigation lingers, we are reminded that not all injured plaintiffs will live to see and receive the settlements they deserve.
July 17, 2023 - Largest Number of New Cases Added to MDL
In the past month, 493 new lawsuits were added to the AFFF multi-district litigation. This is the largest monthly number since the MDL was formed. Of the more than 5,000 pending cases, some may be municipal water contamination cases which will be settled according to the agreement reached earlier this month. The remaining cases should be personal injury matters which will be the focus once the municipal settlements are cleared out.
July 5, 2023 - Municipal Water Contamination Lawsuits are Settled with 3M, DuPont, and Other Manufacturers. Focus Shifts to Individual Cases Now
Instead of holding the first bellwether trial scheduled in June 2023, all municipality-related AFFF lawsuits have been settled. DuPont and its spin-offs Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve approximately 300 PFAS complaints from drinking water suppliers. While the largest defendant, 3M, finally agreed to pay up to $10.3 billion to resolve municipality drinking water contamination cases, according to a 3M press release. Since the payments will occur over a 12-year timeframe, the actual payout could be closer to $12.5 billion, according to 3M's SEC filing.
With the municipality claims out of the way, the focus will shift to claims brought by individual firefighters and military members who have suffered personal injuries as a result of AFFF exposure. After agreeing to pay these billion-dollar settlements, we hope the AFFF manufacturers will be willing to pay smaller amounts to resolve the remaining individual lawsuits and clear these matters off their books quickly. As of July 1st, there were 4,793 cases pending in the AFFF MDL.
June 5, 2023 - First AFFF Trial Scheduled to Begin Today is Delayed. Some AFFF Lawsuit Settlements are Possible in 2023
The first AFFF trial was scheduled to start today, but it has been delayed based on a joint motion filed by both parties claiming they are close to settlement. Unfortunately, this case does not address individual personal injury claims against the manufacturers of AFFF foam. Instead, the first trial was based on a claim brought by the City of Stuart, Florida, alleging its water sources, along with groundwater and local soils, were contaminated by the PFAS chemicals found in AFFF.
Setting a case for trial often leads to last-minute settlement negotiations, and we've learned that 3M may be close to paying $10 billion to settle all municipality-based lawsuits. DuPont may also be considering settlement options at this stage, but again, only for municipalities, not individual personal injury claims.
Since our goal is to help the firefighters, military members, and others who were injured by AFFF foam exposure, a trial verdict against the chemical manufacturers might have carried more weight. However, municipal settlements may lead to individual compensation in firefighter and military personal injury lawsuits, so we are following these initial negotiations closely.
June 2, 2023 - Three Major Chemical Manufacturing Defendants Reach Settlement Agreement With Municipalities
Three of the largest defendants in the AFFF Lawsuit MD--DuPont de Nemours, the Chemours Company, and Corteva--have reached an agreement to address claims brought by municipalities whose public water systems were contaminated by PFAS chemicals found in AFFF. A $1.185 billion settlement fund will be created by the three corporations that will each contribute funds based on their agreed involvement. The proposed agreement must be approved by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
May 23, 2023 - EPA's Proposed Limits on PFAS in Drinking Water Will Be Admitted in First AFFF Trial Next Month
The EPA has finally issued proposed limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals that are acceptable in drinking water. The recommended limit of only four parts per billion should help juries understand the extreme dangers firefighting foam presents. The defendants in the first AFFF trial scheduled to begin on June 5th have objected to the admission of these limits. They argued the EPA's recommendation is not final yet and did not indicate the level of knowledge at the time the AFFF products were produced.
Judge Gergal denied the defendant's motion to bar the evidence because it might explain the toxicity of PFAS and why they should be removed from city water sources. If this first bellwether trial results in a substantial victory for the plaintiff, we expect the defendants will appeal the judge's decision.
May 18, 2023 - Defendant Kidde-Fenwal, Inc. is Removed From the First AFFF Lawsuit Bellwether Trial; Second Round of AFFF Trials Will Involve Personal Injuries
Kidde-Fenwal Inc. (KFI) was a named defendant in the upcoming trial brought by the City of Stuart, FL. The pending lawsuit alleges KFI (among others) manufactured AFFF firefighting foams that contained PFAS, which contaminated the city's water sources. When KFI filed for bankruptcy protection, Judge Gergel (the judge controlling the AFFF lawsuit MDL) removed KFI as a defendant as required under bankruptcy rules.
The first round of bellwether trials focuses on municipal water source contamination, while the second phase will feature personal injury claims brought by military members and firefighters exposed to AFFF foam during their service or employment. Potential personal injury plaintiffs will be sorted by the type of medical issues they suffer - kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, or ulcerative colitis. Also, these victims must have been exposed to AFFF foam near Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, Peterson Air Force Base, the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, or the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.
May 12, 2023 - The City of Stuart, Florida Alleges AFFF Foam Contaminated City's Water Supply
The first test trial, also known as a bellwether trial in the nationwide AFFF lawsuit, is City of Stuart v. 3M Co., et. al. Stuart, Florida, is a city on the Atlantic coast near Jupiter. The lawsuit alleges the City's water supply and groundwater were contaminated by PFAS resulting from the use of AFFF firefighter foam products manufactured by certain companies.
The named defendants include 3M, DuPont, and Tyco Fire Products. These three companies argued the city would not be able to link the water contamination to their products, but the judge disagreed. Federal Judge Gergel denied a joint Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the three defendants. Eventually, the jury will be required to consider complicated scientific evidence to decide whether the defendants should be held responsible for contaminating the water sources. The outcome of this first trial will have a major impact on the future of this litigation and potential AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts.
May 7, 2023 - First Bellwether Trial is Approaching, Study Shows Firefighters' Equipment Also Contains PFAS
The first bellwether case (test lawsuit) is set for a jury trial in June. Both sides are preparing their evidence and objecting to the other side's proposed exhibits. The judge is requiring all lead counsel to argue their objections, in person, in an effort to reduce frivolous arguments.
In the meantime, new research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tested 20 different materials used to create firefighter gear and found all contained at least one and up to 17 types of PFAS. It is unclear whether these PFAS can be absorbed into firefighters' skin and raise the likelihood of cancer risks.
April 20, 2023 - National Firefighter Registry for Cancer is Established
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging all firefighters to enroll in the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer to track and analyze the incidence of cancer among firefighters. In general, firefighters report more cancer diagnoses than the general public. Not long ago, the link between AFFF and cancer was considered hypothetical. Now it appears that the risk of cancer from AFFF is becoming an accepted fact.
There are now 4,173 claims filed in the AFFF lawsuit MDL.
March 3, 2023 – The United States Air Force to Discontinue Fire Suppression Systems That Use AFFF
In response to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of the Air Force aims to be the first military department to discontinue the use of fire suppressants containing PFAS chemicals. According to the NDAA, all DoD installations must phase out AFFF by October 2024. In response to this deadline, the Air Force established an AFFF Sundown Policy that calls for all foam systems to be “locked out” at the tank by closing and locking valves that connect the tanks carrying AFFF to the fire suppression systems. The tanks will then be tagged with AFFF signage and removed from the area.
Research and testing are still underway to determine adequate replacements and solutions for aqueous film-forming foam. However, meanwhile, we can expect that many more individuals will be exposed to firefighting foam.
February 9, 2023 – Illinois Files a Statewide Lawsuit Against Manufacturers of AFFF
Illinois is the sixth-largest state in the United States and home to some of the nation's largest natural water reservoirs. The state filed a lawsuit against manufacturers of firefighting foam, arguing that it presents a risk of drinking water contamination. This claim may be an attempt to avoid having the lawsuit consolidated into the AFFF MDL in South Carolina in order to seek a quicker resolution. The motion named defendants 3M, Dyneon, L.L.C., DuPont, and several other distributors and manufacturers.
January 11, 2023 - New Study Highlights the Danger for Firefighters
A new study published in Occupational Medicine found that firefighters are four times more likely than the general population to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and three times more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia.
November 26, 2022 - AFFF settlement discussions
Judge Gergel has appointed retired Judge Layn Phillips to facilitate global settlement talks between plaintiffs and the numerous defendant manufacturers of firefighting foam. There are presently over 3300 pending AFFF lawsuits in the AFFF MDL. Settlement talks will be complicated by the different interests of individual plaintiffs and the municipalities that also serve as individual plaintiffs. Keep in mind the very first firefighting foam bellwether trial was brought by the City of Stuart, Florida.
October 22, 2022 - First AFFF lawsuit bellwether trial selected
AFFF MDL Judge Richard Gergel has selected his first bellwether trial, which is the City of Stuart v. 3M Company, et al., scheduled for June 5, 2023. We believe settlement discussions will begin heating up as the first trial grows closer. Keep in mind there are two categories of AFFF cases. One batch is individual claims, and the other lawsuits are brought on behalf of municipalities for damage to property and the water source.
September 26, 2022 - 3M's government contractor defense fails
Judge Gergel rejected 3M's government contractor defense. 3M had sought summary judgment based on manufacturing AFFF firefighting foam under a government contract. However, 3M'S failure to inform the government of known dangers concerning firefighting foam served as their undoing. Judge Gergel stated that 3M withheld information about potential health risks for individuals exposed to AFFF, including an increased risk for testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer. The environmental protection agency considers AFFF foam a very dangerous health risk.
A large number of AFFF lawsuits would have been barred had Judge Gergel granted 3M's motion for summary judgment. 3M is the largest defendant in the firefighting foam lawsuit. 3M was well aware of thousands of complaints that AFFF exposure is linked to multiple cancers.
September 20, 2021- 2,700 AFFF lawsuits pending against several common defendants
As of September 20, 2021, there are nearly 2,700 AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits pending before Judge Gergel in the United States Federal Court for the District of South Carolina. The official title is The Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Product Liability Litigation, MDL-2873. As AFFF lawyers, we see several common defendants, and we can separate the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits into several categories. Current AFFF lawsuits are pending against 3M, TYCO Fire Product, Dupont, Buckeye Fire Equipment, and Chemguard Inc., among others.
September 6, 2021 - The first bellwether AFFF lawsuit is scheduled
Judge Gergel issued a case management order last month indicating that the first AFFF firefighting foam bellwether trial would take place in April 2023. The specific AFFF foam lawsuit to be tried will be selected this December.
September 29, 2018 - The creation of an MDL to consolidate each AFFF lawsuit for pre-trial procedures
A multidistrict litigation (MDL) was created for the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits. The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has consolidated all firefighting foam lawsuits that were filed and are pending in Federal Court. A total of just over 80 AFFF lawsuits were consolidated before Judge Richard M. Gergel at this time.
These lawsuits share similar issues of both law and facts surrounding the use of firefighting foam and the toxic chemicals in AFFF. We expect the number of AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuits to increase exponentially over the next year. Keep in mind that nearly 20% of firefighters consistently exposed to AFFF firefighting foam are diagnosed with cancer at some point. Kidney and testicular cancer seem to be the most common diagnosis. However, there are a wide variety of medical issues and different types of cancers related to AFFF exposure.
Firefighting Foam AFFF Lawsuit Defendants—The Manufacturers
The experienced firefighting foam cancer lawyers at Dolman Law Group are presently investigating claims against the following AFFF manufacturers:
- 3M Company
- Tyco Fire Products
- Kidde Fire Fighting
- Buckeye Fire Equipment
- Chubb Fire
- The Chemours Company
This list is not exhaustive. We will investigate claims against any of the existing firefighting foam manufacturers. If you or a loved one was employed as a firefighter and later developed cancer, please reach out to our firefighting foam cancer lawyers and schedule a free consultation and case review.
Who Can Develop Cancer Due to AFFF Exposure?
Those who are at the greatest risk of developing cancer as a result of long-term AFFF exposure include firefighters, U.S. military service members who have lived and worked in proximity to where the firefighting foam is used, as well as airport workers and emergency responders.
What Problems Can the Dangerous Chemicals in AFFF Foam Cause and How?
Aqueous film-forming foam exposure leaves many firefighters at risk with high levels of up to nine different fluorinate compounds in their blood.
Firefighters are exposed to forever chemicals in several ways: through breathing, skin contact, and oral ingestion, which may prove difficult to avoid when fighting fires directly.
Today's firefighters have stringent safety regulations in place to help decrease exposure and effects of potential exposure to forever chemicals, including wearing protective gear before using fire suppression systems that contain PFAS, showering as soon as possible, and wiping down the skin after suspected exposure.
Firefighters have also moved to replace their existing systems with fluorine-free fire suppression options. Unfortunately, despite the known dangers, some firefighters continue to come into contact with PFAS through fire suppression systems. While these chemicals may, in the short term, help fight fires, they can also cause serious harm to the firefighters who help suppress those fires.
High-Risk Professions for AFFF Firefighting Foam Exposure
Most individuals who come into contact with high levels of AFFF work as firefighters in some capacity. Many firefighters do not receive warnings about the potential dangers associated with AFFF use or exposure to PFAS. They receive training in the use of specific procedures that help suppress fires without adequate warning of how exposure to firefighting foam could hurt them later in life.
Use by the Navy
AFFF usage in the Navy began in the 1960s. Not only did Navy workers use AFFF to suppress actual fires, but it was also used as part of training exercises designed to teach the appropriate responses to those fires.
The Navy heavily favored the use of these chemicals due to their ability to smother jet fuel fires, which could quickly rage out of control without fire suppression help. Currently, the US Navy has moved to transition away from chemicals that contain PFAS. Unfortunately, the Navy continues to use many of these chemicals while looking for effective solutions.
Until 2018, when information about the potential cancerous impact of AFFF firefighting foam exposure came to light, many airports required the use of AFFF in their fire suppression systems. Many workers in those airports, especially emergency responders and those who helped clean up after those fires, likely were exposed to toxic firefighting foam.
Does the U.S. Military Continue to Use AFFF?
According to a press release from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the Air Force is on track to become the first military branch to meet the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act’s requirement to shut down all hangar fire suppression systems that use AFFF.
The Air Force has been testing other fire suppression products since 2016, including 12 fluorine-free foams and off-the-shelf alternatives. Currently, the branch is waiting for authorization to replace the AFFF in vehicles with fluorine-free foam by late 2024. Other military branches continue using AFFF for fire suppression.
AFFF Firefighting Foam Exposure in Groundwater and Drinking Water
AFFF does not degrade substantially on its own and may take thousands of years to disappear from local areas. In areas where it was used, it may leech into the ground and local groundwater. In some cases, that may lead to local citizens facing exposure to those harmful chemicals.
These chemicals may remain particularly high around Navy bases or in areas where firefighters train regularly. Private citizens who believe they may face cancer due to exposure to chemicals from AFFF should consult their doctors and talk to a lawyer to learn more about their rights and the harm caused by those chemicals.
Filing an AFFF Lawsuit: Who Bears Liability for Injuries?
Many of the companies using AFFF, including local fire departments, may have had little to no idea of the potential side effects of those chemicals.
On the other hand, some of the companies producing those fire suppression systems have known about the dangers for decades. Despite that knowledge, these individuals took no steps to protect the public, including the firefighters who put their lives on the line to help suppress fires and save both people and property.
At Dolman Law Group, we are prepared to pursue compensation for victims who faced serious diagnoses and symptoms as a result of AFFF exposure. We are looking at claims, evaluating the challenges faced by individuals who have dealt with those diagnoses, and challenging the companies that produced and distributed AFFF for fire suppression. Contact us for a free consultation to see if you may be eligible to take part in the firefighter foam lawsuit settlement.
The Dangers of PFAS in AFFF Firefighting Foam
PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have gained attention in recent years after they were labeled “forever chemicals” due to their inability to break down. In fact, if PFAS chemicals ever break down, it can take years. As a result, PFAS contamination has proven to be extremely expensive for municipalities to remediate. Individuals who live in the immediate area are often exposed to these toxic chemicals and known carcinogens regularly as they drink and bathe in contaminated water.
The environmental protection agency (EPA) has released a study indicating that nearly 900 uses of AFFF products or spills containing AFFF firefighting foam have entered various U.S. waterways. In fact, 897 instances of forever chemicals seeping into our water sources have been documented by the EPA. There is no telling how widespread the contamination of our water sources by dangerous chemicals and known carcinogens is.
Other Health Problems Related to AFFF Exposure
In addition to the multiple types of cancer we listed earlier, here are some other potential diseases your doctors might believe result from exposure to AFFF, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
- Fertility issues
- Increased cholesterol
- Thyroid disease
- Kidney disease
- Crohn's disease
- Liver disease
- Neurological disease
- Changes in fetal development
- Changes in child development
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
Understand that without being diagnosed with one of the cancers listed earlier, you will not be able to receive a personal injury award related to your AFFF exposure. The illnesses and diseases listed here are potential side effects of exposure.
If you believe you have AFFF exposure, tell your doctor so they can be on the lookout for these cancers and diseases.
Proving the Validity of an AFFF Lawsuit
To prove the elements of an AFFF lawsuit, work closely with a personal injury attorney who can explain more about your legal rights and what information you will need to provide, including the following:
- Medical records. Your medical records will contain your diagnosis and when it took place, notes from your doctor about the severity of your symptoms, and how many areas of your life are impacted. These records will also include information about any cancer treatments needed, including chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment.
- Medical bills. Your medical bills will help form the foundation of your AFFF exposure personal injury claim. Collect all medical bills related to your cancer diagnosis, including bills for tests, follow-up visits with your doctor, cancer treatments, and any procedures performed. You may also include bills for any durable medical equipment you used during your illness or for in-home care if needed.
- Evidence of your AFFF exposure. Where did you face AFFF exposure? In what context? Did you work as a firefighter in a local fire department, on a Navy base, or in an airport? Did you face AFFF exposure due to chemicals in groundwater that you consumed or were exposed to over time? A dedicated AFFF foam attorney can help you collect evidence of your AFFF exposure, including how often you may have been exposed due to your personal experience.
If You Cannot Offer Proof of Exposure
Employment records can help show that you worked as a firefighter. If you worked as a volunteer firefighter, your volunteer records could also show when you may have faced exposure. An attorney can help investigate your claim and provide the proof that you may need. If you worked at an airport or in the Navy as a firefighter, those records would also show when you may have faced exposure.
An attorney can help assess what chemicals your workplace used and review any situations in which you may have faced direct exposure.
AFFF Lawsuit Settlement Amounts: Recovering The Compensation You Deserve
Following exposure to PFAS and a cancer diagnosis related to that exposure, contact a dedicated personal injury attorney with AFFF experience as soon as possible. Our firefighting foam attorneys can help provide an overview of the specific compensation you deserve and determine who may be responsible for paying compensation. Most personal injury claims, including AFFF litigation due to exposure to carcinogens, include the same basic financial damages.
Your medical bills form a vital part of any personal injury claim—and following a cancer diagnosis, those bills can add up fast. Many cancer patients face long hospitalizations and require multiple procedures to treat their cancer. You may have to undergo surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Some doctors recommend expensive immunotherapy to help advance the treatment of cancer or palliative care to ease your symptoms.
Following a cancer diagnosis, some patients have to leave work, either temporarily or permanently. While some patients can work part-time while going through cancer treatments, others may find it impossible to manage their treatments while still doing full-time work. Some employers will allow you to shift to part-time work during your treatments; however, you may miss a substantial amount of your normal wages during those periods.
Pain and Suffering
Cancer patients go through a great deal of suffering during their treatments. Not only can many types of cancer cause considerable suffering on their own, but the treatments can also cause additional suffering for the victim. Many victims also suffer as they miss out on much-anticipated activities, relationships, and events due to weakness from cancer or cancer treatments.
Talk to an attorney about how to include the pain and suffering you faced as part of your lawsuit.
Why You Deserve Compensation for AFFF-Related Damages
As a firefighter, you likely took your job to protect the people around you: to fight fires, stop property damage, and save lives. If you worked as a Navy or airport firefighter, you might have been exposed to high levels of those chemicals regularly as you worked to save lives and decrease potential dangers.
The companies that produced those chemicals, however, did not take the necessary steps to protect you.
With proper protective gear and safety measures in place, including limiting the movements of AFFF materials to protect groundwater and keep residents safe, AFFF can still see regular use. In some dangerous environments, the hazards presented by fires could outweigh the possible dangers of AFFF exposure. Unfortunately, the companies that manufacture AFFF did not take the steps necessary to protect firefighters or private citizens who came into contact with those chemicals.
In many patients, a cancer diagnosis can change and limit the rest of their lives. If cancer reaches an advanced stage before diagnosis, it can lead to death. You deserve compensation for the losses you faced. Contact Dolman Law Group to learn more about your legal right to compensation through a firefighting foam cash settlement.
What Potential AFFF Lawsuit Settlement Amounts Can I Expect?
For starters, the manufacturers of AFFF are not quite ready to settle. Bellwether trials are now being set, with the first trial currently set to occur in June 2023. A bellwether case enables both sides to see how a jury may evaluate similar cases within the AFFF MDL. However, once several bellwether trials have reached jury verdicts; we anticipate one side will commence discussions of a potential AFFF settlement to eliminate the potential exposure of numerous lawsuits going one way or the other.
We expect each AFFF lawsuit settlement to be based on several categories concerning the type of cancer and its severity. While it is still too early to make accurate predictions as to settlement value, we can speculate based on how prior mass tort cases have been resolved. We believe the average AFFF lawsuit settlement value will exceed $150,000.00. Further, it is our opinion that the average jury verdict could exceed $1,000,000.00. However, only a small portion of mass tort cases are tried before a jury due to the risk and costs associated with trials.
How Can a Firefighting Foam Attorney Help?
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve for any type of personal injury claim, including claims related to a cancer diagnosis for AFFF exposure. An attorney can:
- Help you better understand your legal right to compensation. How much compensation do you really deserve after a cancer diagnosis? Should you participate in a class action lawsuit or pursue compensation on your own? What should you do if the company that manufactured AFFF offers you a settlement you do not think will meet your needs? An attorney can provide valuable advice that can help you make the best decisions to protect your financial future and rights following serious health-related challenges related to AFFF exposure.
- Fight for you. You need an attorney to help fight for the compensation you deserve. Often, companies respond more generously to attorneys than they do to private individuals. An attorney can also help take your claim to court, if needed, and fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve. An attorney can also help you decide when to accept a settlement offer and how it may impact your financial future.
- Provide peace of mind and decrease stress throughout the process. With a cancer diagnosis, you have more than enough things to worry about already. An attorney can help provide peace of mind as you move through the legal system after your diagnosis. Leave the complicated legal process in your attorney's hands rather than worrying about those matters yourself. Many patients find that working closely with an experienced personal injury attorney frees them up to focus on their recovery and the related challenges rather than dealing with legal issues.
AFFF Lawsuit FAQs
If you have questions about an individual claim, contact Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. We can help answer your questions and give you a better understanding of the compensation you deserve for the losses and expenses you suffered due to your cancer diagnosis after AFFF exposure.
In the meantime, we'll answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to AFFF exposure lawsuits.
Filing an AFFF Lawsuit: How Much Does an Attorney Cost?
Many attorneys will accept personal injury claims, including those against AFFF companies, on a contingency fee basis. The attorney does not require payment upfront. Instead, they take their fee as a percentage of the settlement you receive. For many victims, this makes the legal process much more affordable, enabling them to get the compensation they need.
Start with a free consultation with an attorney experienced in handling AFFF lawsuits. Ask the attorney how they have dealt with those clients in the past and, if relevant, what past results they have seen. During that free consultation, an attorney can also give you a better idea of how much compensation you should receive for your personal injury claim.
Can I File a Lawsuit Related to AFFF Exposure Even If I Was Not a Firefighter?
To file an AFFF exposure lawsuit related to a cancer diagnosis, you will need to show evidence of AFFF exposure at some point. If you live near a military base or airport, you might have grounds to show that these chemicals were used regularly around your area. Further research into your local area may reveal when and why you faced AFFF exposure.
In addition, an attorney may help you identify specific instances when firefighters nearby used AFFF to suppress flames. You may also choose to have your local water tested, which could reveal evidence of AFFF contamination. Contact an attorney if you believe that you have grounds for a lawsuit related to AFFF exposure, even if you did not work as a firefighter.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve an AFFF Lawsuit?
It can take time before you have the settlement for an AFFF lawsuit in your hands. Resolving a lawsuit usually takes months or years. You should start by contacting an attorney as soon after your diagnosis as possible, especially if you believe that your diagnosis was caused by AFFF exposure. Your lawyer can help walk you through the process and give you a better idea of the timeline related to your specific claim.
In general, these factors can affect the length of your claim.
- The extent of your cancer and treatment protocols. If you're considering filing a personal injury claim due to a cancer diagnosis, it is important to have an understanding of the costs and time involved in the treatment. Your doctor will be able to provide you with further information on this, although they may not be able to give you a definite idea of the future. Your lawyer may also advise you to wait until you have further information on your prognosis before filing a claim.
- The rounds of negotiation involved. Before you can receive a settlement for your claim—or, if you need to go to court, a jury award—you may need to go through several rounds of negotiation. You may not want to accept the company's initial offer, and the company will usually not offer you the funds you asked for. The more rounds of negotiation you need to go through, the more it can increase the time needed to settle your claim. You may also need to factor in the time needed for mediation, in which you have a chance to sit down with your attorney, the company and its representatives, and a mediator to help you reach an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement through mediation, your claim may need to go to court.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim If I Lost a Loved One Due to Cancer that was Related to AFFF Exposure?
If you lost a loved one due to cancer from AFFF exposure, you might be able to file a wrongful death claim, which can provide you with compensation for the loss of your loved one. Contact an experienced attorney who has previously dealt with AFFF claims to get a better idea of what compensation you can expect.
Compensation may include:
- Your loved one's medical bills before death
- The loss of companionship you face
- Your loved one's pain and suffering before death
- The loss of your loved one's income or other contributions to the family
To file a wrongful death claim, you will need to have a direct relationship with the deceased. Most often, the deceased's spouse has the first right to compensation, followed by the deceased's children. If the deceased had no spouse or children, their parents could have the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim, especially if the deceased supported the parents financially or physically.
How Should I Handle My Medical Bills If I Have a Cancer Diagnosis Related to AFFF Exposure?
No matter what caused your cancer diagnosis, as the party receiving medical services, you have the primary obligation to pay for those services. The contract you sign with your doctors or hospital will indicate that you need to take responsibility for all costs related to those services.
That does not necessarily mean, however, that you must pay all of your medical bills immediately following that type of diagnosis. Some payment options include:
- Your health insurance may help cover many of those expenses. When you receive your initial diagnosis, consult your health insurance company for a better idea of what you can expect for out-of-pocket costs. You may need to ask questions about what coverage your insurance company will offer, including which providers you can use that your insurance company covers in-network for treatments and procedures.
- Your hospital may have programs in place that will help support cancer patients and their families. Many hospitals offer treatment to patients on a nonprofit basis, which can make it easier for you to pay for those treatments. Some other programs also help pay for cancer treatments, transportation, or lodging while patients or their family members go through cancer treatments. Contact your hospital and ask about what programs you can use to help offset some of the costs associated with cancer treatment.
- A personal injury claim can be the best way to be financially compensated for medical costs caused by an injury. Although it won't change the diagnosis, it can give you the financial means to pay for related treatments. Contact an injury lawyer soon after diagnosis to learn how much you can receive to help with medical expenses.
Can I Still File an AFFF Lawsuit, Even If I Choose Not to Receive Cancer Treatments?
In some cases, your doctors may discover such advanced cancer that you cannot reasonably expect treatment to prolong your life. In others, you may have a relatively minor cancer that does not require immediate treatment, only observation. In either case, however, you may still face considerable medical bills related to your treatment.
Even if you do not receive treatment for your cancer, you may still have the right to an AFFF lawsuit that can help you seek compensation for the suffering you faced and for your medical expenses. Contact an AFFF attorney to ask more specific questions about your rights following your cancer diagnosis and how your decision not to pursue treatment can affect your claim. Keep in mind that our mass tort attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, we do not get paid unless our firm obtains a settlement on behalf of the victim, so learning about your rights will cost you nothing.
How Long After My AFFF Exposure Could I Develop Cancer?
Not everyone who has AFFF exposure will automatically develop cancer. The buildup of PFAS, PFOS, and PFOA can occur in the body over years of exposure, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. So, the chances of developing cancer from exposure to these chemicals will go up after repeated and lengthy exposure to them. A short exposure or infrequent exposure may not lead to the formation of cancer in the future.
However, long-term occupational exposure to AFFF creates an increased risk you may develop cancer or another serious medical issue. Some people may develop cancer within a few years after the AFFF exposure. Others may not see cancer appear for several years. Some people will never develop cancer.
If you believe you were exposed to AFFF, you should alert your general practitioner as soon as possible. Try to be specific about the dates and levels of exposure you had. With this information in your medical records, your doctor can keep a lookout for any related cancers or illnesses, hoping to catch them early. If you eventually need to file a claim because of your AFFF exposure, having this information in your medical records is also helpful.
When Should You Partner With an Attorney to File an AFFF Lawsuit After a Cancer Diagnosis?
As a firefighter, you may have put your life and health on the line to help save the people around you or to decrease the risk of extreme property damage. You did not expect the danger to sneak up on you. And you cannot be expected to navigate the complex legal system alone.
Based on experience with other claims related to AFFF exposure and its damage, our experienced firefighting foam lawyers have an intimate understanding of these cases. This can include deciphering complex medical diagnoses, tracking exposure rates, and determining the liable party. Personal injury attorneys who have no experience with these kinds of cases may struggle to fully understand the medical issues involved, as well as the technology behind the chemistry.
Trust our team to understand your case fully. We know how frustrating it can be to face a situation like this, and we take pride in helping victims of AFFF exposure receive the compensation they deserve. We are presently representing a number of professional, volunteer, and military firefighters.
Dolman Law Group is ready to listen to your story and see if we can help you by pursuing an AFFF lawsuit on your behalf or on behalf of a loved one. Contact us today to learn more about your right to compensation following a cancer diagnosis. Our AFFF lawsuit attorneys will work tirelessly to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Why You Should Choose Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm. Our personal injury lawyers have in excess of 130+ years of combined experience. We have recovered over $400 million on behalf of serious injury victims. Further, we have the financial resources to handle a wide array of firefighting foam cases. In fact, our lawyers are experienced in handling product liability cases in both state and federal courts.
The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.