[co-author: Stephanie Kozol]*
Public water utilities and 3M have until August 28 to respond to the bipartisan coalition of 22 state attorneys general (AGs) that opposes their proposed $12.5 billion class action settlement over alleged per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination and is seeking to intervene in their litigation.
The matter, which is pending before Judge Richard M. Gergel in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, is part of the multidistrict PFAS litigation involving the public water suppliers’ lawsuits against PFAS manufacturers such as 3M, DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva over their use of PFAS — commonly referred to as toxic “forever chemicals” — in a wide range of consumer products and firefighting foams. The AGs have grudgingly endorsed the parties’ request for preliminary approval of a $1.185 billion class action settlement between the water providers and DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva — although the AGs for California, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, in an amici letter earlier this month, said that deal should not serve as a benchmark for any future settlements — but the 22-AG coalition led by California AG Rob Bonta remains opposed to the proposed 3M deal.
In a motion to intervene in the litigation and an omnibus opposition filed on July 26, the 22 state AGs argue that Judge Gergel should reject the 3M settlement based on what they say is its overbroad indemnity clause, among other things.
Judge Gergel originally ordered responses to the AGs’ motion to intervene filed on August 2, but has since allowed joint requests by the plaintiffs and 3M to extend that deadline, which most recently was scheduled to expire on August 16. According to the parties’ latest joint motion, which was filed and allowed on August 16, “Plaintiffs and 3M have engaged in multiple discussions and exchanged several proposals with counsel for the Sovereigns as they continue to attempt to address the concerns the Sovereigns have raised in the Opposition Filings. Despite these substantial good faith efforts, the parties have not resolved all of the issues raised by the Sovereigns.”
Joining Bonta in opposing the proposed 3M settlement are the AGs for Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Why It Matters
The AGs’ action demonstrates the emphasis that many state AGs place upon maximizing their authority to hold PFAS manufacturers financially liable for their alleged roles toward environmental contamination linked to PFAS.
*Senior Government Relations Manager