Several firefighters have filed product liability lawsuits with manufacturers of AFFF firefighting foam because it contains dangerous chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Also known as ‘forever chemicals,’ PFAS can enter the body and persist for years, causing health problems like breast, kidney, pancreatic, and liver cancer.
These AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits have consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs and defendants have filed motions in limine, which seek to strike evidence and information from the record before bellwether trials. Both sides file motions in limine to put themselves in the best position to succeed at the bellwether trials, giving them firmer standings in settlement negotiations.
AFFF Firefighting Foam Plaintiffs Hold Manufacturers Accountable for Negligence
AFFF firefighting foam is an industry-standard firefighting foam that engulfs fire with a cooling layer of film that cools and extinguishes it. Military and civilian units have successively used this type of firefighting foam to extinguish dangerous fires, but it contains toxic chemicals that can expose firefighters and civilians to health risks.
It contains per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), man-made chemicals used in consumer products because they can resist oil, water, and grease. Firefighters and civilians have reported adverse health conditions caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals. Thousands of people have filed AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits to hold manufacturers, such as Tyco Fire Products, Dupont, and 3M Company, accountable for using dangerous chemicals in their products without notifying consumers about the health risks.
What is a Motion in Limine?
The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL), with over 4,000 lawsuits currently pending in the District of South Carolina. Before the upcoming bellwether trial in the AFFF firefighting foam MDL, the plaintiffs and defendants filed motions in limine to exclude evidence from trial proceedings.
This pre-trial motion allows evidence to be considered inadmissible, meaning it cannot be brought up in trial because it is deemed inappropriate, irrelevant, or prejudicial. Both sides use motions in limine to exclude evidence that could hurt their case or present them in an unfavorable light.
What Does the Defense Want Excluded from Future Trials?
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new national drinking water standard to ensure PFAS would not be present in drinking water. This establishes the danger of PFAS, as they feel the chemicals are too dangerous for consumption. The defense wants this information inadmissible, as they feel it is irrelevant to AFFF firefighting foam and could mislead the jury.
They also want any information regarding their lawyers’ excluded. This information can include how many lawyers were hired, where they operate, and how much they pay for their services. The defense wants information regarding how important the bellwether trials are, how many cases are in the AFFF MDL, and any PFAS contamination outside of Stuart, Florida, excluded.
The Significance of Excluded the Term ‘Forever Chemicals’ from AFFF Lawsuit Trials
One of the major pieces of evidence that the defendants want to be excluded from bellwether trials is the phrase ‘forever chemicals.’ This is a popular phrase used to describe PFAS because they persist for decades when contaminating the environment, soil, water sources, and people’s bodies.
The defense wants this phrase excluded from trial proceedings because they believe it is misleading and inflammatory. They believe not all PFAS persist for a long time, and the label can mislead about how some PFAS operate.
This term being excluded from bellwether trials would be a huge development. Trusted scientists use this term to accurately describe how PFAS operate and why they are so dangerous. Disallowing attorneys representing the plaintiffs from referencing PFAS persisting in the environment would restrict how they could make their case about the dangers presented by the chemicals.
What Do the Plaintiffs Want to be Excluded From Future Trials?
The plaintiffs filed motions in limine to keep information out of the bellwether trials. They offered a less extensive list of information and evidence to be exempt from court usage. Their motions in limine had less to do with exact evidence and more about how the defense presented its arguments.
The following is some of what the plaintiffs want to be excluded from the trial proceedings:
- Referring to the plaintiffs as “we” or “us”
- The defense used irrelevant, prejudicial personal information about the plaintiffs
- Evidence of the defense’s lawyers or defendants using AFFF products
- Using the training and background information about the plaintiffs’ lawyers
Do AFFF Firefighting Foam Victims Need Product Liability Lawyers?
Hiring a product liability lawyer is an important step in the process of filing an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit. You likely do not have the experience to handle the process on your own, as MDLs can be complicated for inexperienced victims. A product liability lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to join the MDL and receive the benefits conferred by consolidation.
The following are some ways a product liability lawyer can help with your AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit:
- File paperwork to join the AFFF firefighting foam MDL
- Explain your rights
- Collect evidence to prove you were affected by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam
- Calculate the cost of your damages
- Share resources with our plaintiffs’ lawyers
- Update you on the AFFF firefighting foam MDL’s progress
Contact The Russo Firm for Help With Your AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
At The Russo Firm, our product liability lawyers can help you pursue compensation for damages caused by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam, such as medical bills, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. We understand that MDLs can confuse victims and wish to help explain the process.
Our product liability lawyers can assist you through the MDL process and ensure you recover fair compensatory damages to pay for the full cost of your losses. We provide free consultations, so AFFF firefighting foam victims can learn how our lawyers can help them through this complicated process. Contact us for a free case evaluation today at (561) 270-0913 or leave a message on our online contact page.