How Are Companies Being Held Accountable in the AFFF Navy Lawsuit?

For many, the image of a Navy sailor evokes bravery and resilience.

Yet, for a growing number of veterans, the service they dedicated to their country has come at a massive cost: exposure to toxic firefighting foam known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). This specialized foam, designed to suppress fuel-based fires, was extensively used by U.S. defense personnel.

However, AFFF contains toxic chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds, specifically PFOS and PFOA. These chemicals have been linked to significant health issues, leading to lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the AFFF Navy Lawsuit, the accountability of entities involved, and some commonly asked questions.

Understanding the AFFF Lawsuit

AFFF is a type of fire-fighting foam that quickly extinguishes flames by separating the fuel from the air.

Following the tragic incident with USS Forrestal which claimed over 130 lives and injured over 161 personnel, it became a mainstay in the US Navy and Marines. Starting in the 1970s, the US Navy implemented AFFF on seaborne vessels and its bases.

Thanks to its efficiency, the foam became an immediate hit among all branches of the armed forces, making it the principal firefighting material used aboard US Coast Guard and Navy vessels for inflammable liquid fires.

While excellent in extinguishing flames, AFFF contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of chemicals linked to a range of health issues. These include:

  • Cancer: Studies suggest a potential link between AFFF exposure and certain cancers, including kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancers.
  • Thyroid disease: PFAS exposure may increase the risk of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
  • Liver damage: Studies indicate a potential association between AFFF exposure and liver problems.
  • Immune system suppression: PFAS is known to weaken the immune system, thus, making individuals more susceptible to infections.

The potential risks and consequences of AFFF exposure are a cause for concern and have led to legal action to hold accountable those responsible for the exposure. As a result, several lawsuits have been filed by Navy personnel and veterans who may have been exposed to AFFF during their service.

Holding Manufacturers Accountable

While the U.S. Navy has faced scrutiny for its use of AFFF, the manufacturers of the firefighting foam also face allegations that they knowingly continued to sell AFFF containing toxic PFAS chemicals without sufficient warnings.

Major manufacturers like 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company), Tyco, Chemours, and Chemguard have been accused of hiding evidence and misrepresenting data on the dangers of PFOS and PFOA found in their AFFF products. These companies profited for decades from selling AFFF despite understanding the substantial health risks these chemicals posed.

The AFFF lawsuit by navy personnel alleges that manufacturers and distributors prioritized profit over safety. Moreover, they concealed research about AFFF’s harmfulness and failed to warn the Navy of the consequences.

Several high-profile cases have already resulted in significant settlements, demonstrating the growing legal liability these companies face. In 2023, 3M, a major AFFF manufacturer, reached a $3.4 billion settlement with multiple states for PFAS contamination, setting a precedent for future AFFF-related litigation.

Another $1.185 billion settlement fund was also created by three leading companies, The Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours, and Corteva, to address PFAS-related drinking water claims involving the public population.

While specific individual AFFF lawsuit settlements in the Navy context are still ongoing, such large-scale settlements signal a shift in accountability and provide resources for veterans impacted by AFFF exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Who can file a lawsuit related to AFFF exposure?

Individuals who developed disorders after exposure to PFOA or PFOS from AFFF sites can file a lawsuit. This includes military personnel, firefighters, workers at chemical plants, and residents of contaminated communities.

Q) What are the settlement amounts can one expect?

As of January 2024, no settlements have been issued. However, as TruLaw expects, the settlement amount can range between $40,000 and $300,000 or even more based on several factors. While this amount is by no means an accurate one, it is just an estimate deduced from previous tort cases and settlements.

Q) What major health issues are associated with PFOA/PFOS exposure?

Studies have linked exposure to conditions like kidney and testicular cancer, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and developmental issues in children.

Q) Are there any resources available to help one get started?

Yes, the Veterans Administration has resources to help veterans exposed to environmental hazards during their service get registered and file claims related to health conditions from toxin exposure.

There are also various local law firms experienced in AFFF litigation that offer free case evaluations.

In conclusion, the AFFF Navy lawsuit serves as a powerful reminder that justice takes time. Though the process is complex, impactful legal action sends a critical message — our veterans and public safety professionals deserve better.

The AFFF lawsuit seeks not just compensation, but acknowledgement and accountability for the hidden cost that our brave veterans have borne in service. The guilty must be held accountable for their willful negligence. Financial compensation, while helpful, can never undo the suffering toxins have inflicted.

However, through ongoing advocacy and litigation, some measures of care and restitution will hopefully extend to all affected by the chemicals that have already taken so much. Our heroes, who gave their health in service, deserve no less.