2023 has proven to be an extremely busy year for states filing PFAS lawsuits seeking environmental pollution remediation costs from PFAS manufacturers and AFFF manufacturers. We previously wrote regarding Illinois (February), Maine (April), Kentucky (April), and Rhode Island, Arizona, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington (all in May) were the latest states seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in PFAS remediation costs. Now, South Carolina has joined the fray, bringing the number of state PFAS lawsuits to over 15 cases, with more expected to be filed. While the lawsuits target a narrowly tailored set of companies, lawsuits in other states have already demonstrated that downstream commerce corporations are at risk of being involved in lawsuits seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.
PFAS Lawsuits By States
The South Carolina Attorney General filed a lawsuit seeking PFAS remediation costs from various PFAS. The lawsuit specifically details the extent to which several types of PFAS are found in groundwater, surface water, drinking water, waste treatment byproducts, and various other environmental impact avenues. Of note is that unlike virtually all of the other PFAS lawsuits by states, the South Carolina lawsuit specifically disclaims any allegations concerning AFFF products. The purpose of doing so is to avoid having the lawsuit be sent to the MDL that was established for AFFF PFAS related lawsuits (which happens to be handled out of South Carolina).
The state is seeking costs related to investigating, cleaning up, restoring, treating, monitoring and “otherwise responding” to the contamination groundwater, surface water, soil and other natural resources.
Implications For Downstream Manufacturers
While the latest state PFAS lawsuits target PFAS manufacturers, companies should not dismiss the lawsuits as events unlikely to impact them in any way. On the contrary, in other states, including California, companies have been directly named as defendants in lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in PFAS remediation costs. Corporations should not ignore the pollution and environmental contamination issues that PFAS pose, as states, federal and state regulatory agencies, and even private citizens are actively seeking damages from companies that they believe placed PFAS into the environment. All companies of all types would be well advised to conduct a complete compliance audit to best understand areas of concern for PFAS liability issues, and ways to mitigate PFAS concerns.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, administrative, and scientific developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact the Chair of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: John Gardella.