What is the Expected Value of an AFFF Firefighting Foam Settlement?

A decades-old firefighting foam equipment testing standard requires firefighters to use equipment that can pass the Ultraviolet Light Degradation Test, which can only be passed by AFFF firefighting foam that contains per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). People exposed to large quantities of PFAS can suffer from significant health issues, such as kidney cancer, pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and liver disease.

People suffering from health issues related to the PFAS have filed AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits to seek compensation for their damages. Currently, over 4,000 AFFF lawsuits are pending in a multi-district litigation that consolidates all lawsuits before Judge Richard M. Gergel in the District of South Carolina. After discovery and bellwether trials, both sides will negotiate a global settlement that could pay plaintiffs six figures for their AFFF firefighting foam damages.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Can Expose Civilians and Firefighters to Dangerous Chemicals

AFFF firefighting foam is the industry-standard firefighting foam for civilian and military firefighting units for its ability to quickly suppress fires in tight spaces. The reason for AFFF fire firefighting foam’s ability to handle fires is the per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that help create a cooling film over the fire that extinguishes the flames. PFAS are synthetic chemicals used in products to help resist oil, grease, stains, water, and heat.

However, these substances are highly dangerous, and extended exposure can cause significant health issues. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not biodegrade for thousands of years after they seep into the environment. After the use of AFFF firefighting foam, they can contaminate soil and drinking supplies, causing civilians and firefighters to experience exposure.

Adverse Health Conditions Caused by PFAS in AFFF Firefighting Foam

Exposure to a significant amount of PFAS can cause health issues when they combine with the body’s proteins and persist for years. PFAS do not break down in the body either, meaning those exposed to dangerous amounts could experience adverse health conditions for their entire life. While it’s unclear how PFAS causes health issues, information from numerous AFFF lawsuits has shown plaintiffs have suffered similar health issues.

The following are some adverse health conditions caused by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
  • Breast cancer
  • High blood pressure for pregnant women
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased infant birth weight
  • Worse vaccine response in children

How Does the AFFF MDL Affect a Victim’s Potential Settlement?

Those who suffered adverse medical conditions because of PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam have filed AFFF firefighting lawsuits to pursue compensation for damages. There are over 4,000 AFFF lawsuits that have consolidated into a multi-district litigation, which means the same judge handles all cases. The AFFF MDL is currently in the District of South Carolina before Judge Richard M. Gergel.

This consolidation can help plaintiffs recover fair compensation for their damages. Plaintiffs in MDLs can to share their resources, meaning all of their personal injury lawyers can communicate with each other and pool their resources to craft the best legal counsel plan. MDLs normally lead to a global settlement because both sides wish to mitigate the costs of lengthy court trials. Settlement negotiations in the AFFF MDL will likely happen after the bellwether trials, which are test trials where both sides see how juries respond to evidence.

The global settlement will likely pay plaintiffs more than they could have gotten if they litigated separately. AFFF manufacturers, like Tyco, 3M, and Dupont, have resources they could use to deny, delay, or devalue individual lawsuits, but that’s harder to accomplish with the lawsuits consolidated. The defendants will agree on a settlement amount that disperses to all plaintiffs. The value of the global settlement depends on how the bellwether trials proceed.

Global Settlement Estimates Based on Previous Mass Tort Cases

Based on previous mass tort cases, AFFF lawsuit plaintiffs could receive settlements that could pay six figures. The value of the settlement will depend on how the bellwether trials go. If the juries strongly favor the plaintiffs during these trials, the defendants may be incentivized to offer a larger global settlement. However, bellwether trials that favor the defendants could harm the plaintiff’s ability to recover fair compensation for their damages.

How much each plaintiff recovers can also be affected by their tier in the AFFF MDL. Plaintiffs with more expensive cases that resulted in higher economic costs will be ranked higher than those with weaker claims. A global settlement will pay more to higher-ranked plaintiffs than lower-ranked plaintiffs.

Learn more: AFFF Plaintiffs and Defendants File Motions to Strike Evidence

What Damages Can AFFF Lawsuit Plaintiffs Pursue Compensation For?

A global settlement from the AFFF MDL can help to pay for the damages AFFF victims suffered from their severe medical condition. AFFF victims can suffer economic damages, as they must pay for medical treatment and lose wages from time off. They can also experience non-economic damages that reflect how their quality of life was affected by their adverse medical condition. A product liability lawyer can help you calculate the cost of your economic and non-economic losses to determine if the global settlement can properly compensate you for your damages.

The following are some damages AFFF firefighting foam victims can pursue:

How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help With Your AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

Hiring a product liability lawyer can help with the process of recovering compensation for your AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit. You might think that a product liability lawyer is not necessary because you will recover compensation from a global settlement, but a product liability lawyer can still be vital.

Joining an in-progress MDL can require you to file out a lot of complicated paperwork, with mistakes affecting your ability to join the consolidated effort. A product liability lawyer will know what paperwork to file, how to get it processed, and can keep you up-to-date on the AFFF MDL’s progress.

Contact The Russo Firm Today for Help With Your AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

At The Russo Firm, our product liability lawyers have experience helping those that have suffered health problems from dangerous products like hair relaxers, Tylenol, and 3M earplugs. We can use our experience in other types of product liability lawsuits to help you through the process of recovering fair compensation for your damages. Our product liability lawyers can help you file the proper paperwork to join the AFFF MDL and keep you updated on how it proceeds. Contact us for a free case evaluation today at (561) 270-0913 or leave a message on our online contact page.

Article written or reviewed by:

Attorney Anthony Russo

Attorney Anthony Russo

Managing Partner and Lawyer at The Russo Firm

No-Cost Case Evaluation