CMBG3 recently reported on two cases filed in Massachusetts in which the PFOS (perfluooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) contamination litigation hit Massachusetts, as a two seperate lawsuits were filed against fire fighting foam manufacturers in which plaintiffs claimed that fire-suppressing foam manufactured by the companies contaminated the local soil and groundwater, causing damage to local property values and causing personal injury. One of the suits is pending in Cape Cod, which we reported on last week. Now, the other pending case in Western Massachusetts is heating up, with arguments before the court as to whether the case should be dismissed.  

PFOS and PFOA compounds (two types of PFAs) were first used in products in the 1940s and 1950s, and were used in consumer products for decades ranging from teflon-coated cooking equipment, Gortex products, stain resistant products, and pizza boxes (to name only a few). In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began focusing on the potential health hazards to humans from PFAs, ranging severity from cancers to elevated levels of cholesterol. By 2015, PFOS and PFOA substances were phased out by many manufacturers in consumer products amid pressure from the EPA. The chemicals were also critical components for fire-suppressing foam for fighting jet fuel fires, and it is that foam that is at issue in the Hyannis case.

The Western Massachusetts lawsuit alleges that the companies supplied a fire-suppressing foam that contained PFOS and PFOA that the companies knew for decades could cause injury to humans. More specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the fire-suppressing foam utilized during training exercises in Westfield, Massachusetts contaminated the local drinking water, which led to thyroid disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other medical issues for residents.

However, the companies argued to the court the other day that the Massachusetts federal court does not have jurisdiction over the case and the claims are time-barred. The city of Westfield countered that the companies’ connections and presence in Massachusetts are significant, so the court has jurisdiction over the case. In addition, the city argued that the EPA’s May 25, 2016 health advisory triggered the lawsuit, as tests showed chemical readings above the revised recommended level of 0.07 parts per billion. The city argued that no samples would have been above that level before the revised EPA advisory, so the claims are not time-barred. 

CMBG3 Law LLC has represented clients in toxic torts and environmental contamination matters for many years. We provide the most current legal advice to our clients by staying on top of developments in science, medicine, and regulations regarding a wide variety of substances and products used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact John Gardella (email him or 617-279-8200).