Lawsuit claims Florida man developed kidney cancer due to firefighting foam
The lawsuit claims that firefighting foam companies knew or should have known their foam could cause cancer but failed to warn about the risk.
A lawsuit which was filed in the United States District Court, District of South Carolina, Charleston Division on February 18 alleges that exposure to AFFF firefighting foam caused a Florida man to develop kidney cancer.
The lawsuit names multiple defendants who manufactured, distributed and sold AFFF firefighting foam, including 3M and DuPont.
The lawsuit centers on the presence of PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam, especially PFOA and PFOS. The complaint alleges that the defendants manufactured, distributed or sold AFFF firefighting foam “with knowledge that it contained highly toxic and bio persistent PFASs, which would expose end users of the product to the risks associated with PFAS.”
The complaint states that PFAS can bind to human blood proteins when people are exposed to AFFF, and that it can persist and remain there for a long time. PFAS “accumulates in the blood and body of exposed individuals,” according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that “PFAS are highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals,” and that the defendants knew or should have known they can stay in the body while presenting people with health risks.
The plaintiff used the AFFF firefighting foam in its intended manner and was unaware that the foam was dangerous, according to the complaint, which claims the plaintiff relied on the AFFF’s instructions for proper handling and developed kidney cancer due to consumption, inhalation and/or dermal absorption of PFAS in the foam.
The complaint seeks to recover punitive and compensatory damages arising out of the plaintiff’s kidney cancer.
The plaintiff, according to the complaint, regularly used AFFF in training and to extinguish fires while he worked as a firefighter.
The complaint implies that those who manufactured, distributed and sold products containing PFAS, including at least PFOA, should have known that these products could be dangerous to people by at least the end of the 1960s, since by then animal toxicity testing performed by defendants showed that PFOA was toxic to the liver, testes, adrenals, and other bodily systems and organs of multiple lab animal species.
The complaint implies that firefighting foam companies should have known that PFAS, including at least PFOA, could accumulate in humans by 1990, as well as that it caused testicular tumors in mice. DuPont classified PFOA as a confirmed animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen due to these tumors, according to the complaint.
The complaint argues that any confirmed animal carcinogen must be presumed to be a possible human carcinogen in the absence of a known cancer mechanism in animals. There is, to date, no known mechanism behind how PFAS like PFOA cause cancer in animals.
The complaint also notes that DuPont testing by 1990 had found elevated cancer rates in workers exposed to PFAS, including at least PFOA, but failed to disclose this finding publicly or to any government entities.
More research done by at least 3M and DuPont, according to the complaint, found by 2000 that PFOA caused three different kinds of tumors, testicular, liver and pancreatic, in rats.
More research done by at least 3M and DuPont, according to the complaint, again found elevated cancer rates in workers exposed to PFAS, including at least PFOA.
The complaint notes that defendants started using newer PFAS, including “short-chain PFAS,” in response to entities asking them to stop using certain PFAS. However, according to the complaint, DuPont and Chemours have been aware since the mid-2010s that at least one short-chain PFAS caused the same three tumors in rats that PFOA did.
Short-chain PFAS, according to the complaint, “present the same, similar, and/or additional risks to human health as had been found in research on other PFAS materials, including cancer risk.”
The complaint states that defendants repeatedly told the public and government, and continue to do so, that PFAS in human blood present no risk of harm to people, and have “intentionally, purposefully, recklessly, and/or negligently chosen not to fund or sponsor any study, investigation, testing, and/or other research of any kind of the nature that [they] claim is necessary to confirm and/or prove that the presence of any one and/or combination of PFAS in human blood… presents any risk of harm to humans.”
The complaint notes that the “C8 Science Panel” announced that people being exposed to a mere 0.05 parts per billion of PFOA was probably linked to kidney cancer and testicular cancer, as well as other conditions.
Defendants, according to the complaint, have told the government and public that the C8 Science Panel’s work was “inadequate.”
PFAS can be found in 99% of the United States’ current population, according to the complaint, which states there is no acceptable level of PFAS in human blood.
The complaint accuses defendants of controlling, minimizing, trivializing, manipulating and/or influencing information published in peer-reviewed journals or released by government entities regarding the safety of PFAS in human blood.
The complaint accuses defendants of attacking, challenging, discrediting, and/or undermining scientific studies which found health risks associated with PFAS.
The complaint alleges defendants “encouraged the continued and even further increased use of PFAS… despite knowledge of the toxicity” associated with it.
The complaint argues the defendants knew or should have known AFFF could give the plaintiff cancer, but failed to warn him about the risk.
The lawsuit seeks to recover damages based on negligence, arguing that the defendants failed to use reasonable care when designing, testing, inspecting, instructing about, warning about, marketing, promoting, advertising and selling AFFF firefighting foam. The lawsuit argues this negligence directly caused the plaintiff’s kidney cancer.
The complaint seeks to recover damages based on battery, arguing that the plaintiff did not to consent to PFAS entering and accumulating in his body, which amounts to an unlawful physical invasion of his person, unreasonably interfering with his rightful use of his blood and body.
Any reasonable person would find this invasion harmful and/or offensive, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit seeks to recover damages based on inadequate warning, arguing the defendants knew or should have known AFFF could cause cancer but failed to provide warnings about this risk on the product’s labeling.
Design defect is alleged by the complaint, which argues that AFFF is defective by design since it can cause cancer when it is used and made properly. The complaint notes that alternative, feasible designs for firefighting foam exist which could reduce or eliminate the health risks associated with AFFF.
Fraudulent concealment is alleged by the complaint, which argues the defendants “knowingly made false claims about the safety” of AFFF and “fraudulently and affirmatively concealed the defective nature” of AFFF.
Breach of express and implied warranties is alleged by the complaint, which argues the defendants impliedly and expressly warranted that AFFF was safe when used as instructed when, in fact, it was not due to the cancer risk associated with exposure to it.
Wantonness is alleged by the lawsuit, which argues the defendants’ “willful and wanton” conduct displayed “a reckless disregard for the life, health and safety” of people.
For more information on firefighting foam lawsuits, visit†Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeffrey Nadrich is the managing partner of Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers, a California personal injury law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Modesto, Tracy, Fresno and Palm Desert.