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North Carolina Firefighter Foam Lawsuit: Get the Right Attorney

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

The North Carolina firefighter foam lawsuit is unfolding, and it could impact you or someone close. This legal fight involves AFFF, a foam linked to cancer, and this article is here to guide those affected through the latest developments.

If you or a loved one have been affected by exposure to firefighting foam, Schmidt & Clark, LLP, stands prepared to support you. As a firm with a distinguished record in championing the rights of plaintiffs, our primary focus is securing the justice and compensation you are rightfully owed.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits

The AFFF firefighting foam, long considered a savior in the war against fires, is now under scrutiny. Firefighters, not just in North Carolina but across the U.S. as well, are filing firefighting foam lawsuits.

They allege that the manufacturers were aware of the health risks linked to their products for years yet failed to issue warnings to users.

According to the Legal News, among firefighters, nearly 20% are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, including kidney and testicular cancer. Indicating the severity of the situation and the growing number of AFFF firefighting foam cases, leading to an increasing interest in an AFFF lawsuit [1].

Firefighting is already a hazardous profession. Firefighters are regularly exposed to dangerous chemicals and compounds. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified firefighting as a Group 1 carcinogen, and studies in states like Indiana have found higher rates of cancer mortality among firefighters compared to the general population.

Yet, it’s not just the flames that pose a threat. The foam used to extinguish them, the AFFF, contains Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ due to their persistent nature. These chemicals, found in many firefighting foam products, have been linked to an elevated incidence of cancers, including:

Key Points from Lawsuits

AFFF cancer lawsuits have been making waves, and the ripples are being felt across the country. The crux of these lawsuits is the claim that AFFF manufacturers knew about the health risks associated with PFAS exposure but failed to warn users.

This has led to personal injury claims and municipal water contamination lawsuits, with the United States District Court seeing a surge in such cases.

But it’s not just firefighters filing these lawsuits. Military members, airport fire control personnel, and even residents living near places where AFFF was used extensively are stepping forward, seeking justice for their health issues, which include various cancers, thyroid problems, and fertility issues.

What Is AFFF?

According to the Division of Spill Prevention and Response, AFFF is an acronym for Aqueous Film Forming Foam, a specialized firefighting foam designed for extinguishing Class B fires, which are fueled by hydrocarbon-based substances such as gasoline, oil, and jet fuel [2]. These types of fires are typically found in high-risk environments, Including airports and military bases.

The effectiveness of AFFF lies in its fluorosurfactants, which reduce surface tension, enabling the foam to spread across and smother flammable liquids, thereby preventing re-ignition and effectively stopping the fire. Unfortunately, these fluorosurfactants contain PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to a slew of health issues.

Who Are The Defendants In AFFF Lawsuits in North Carolina?

The defendants in AFFF lawsuits in North Carolina include major corporations such as 3M, DuPont, and Tyco Fire Products. These companies are among those implicated in the AFFF Firefighting Foam MDL (multi-district litigation), which consolidates numerous cases from different districts for the pretrial stages.

Nevertheless, the path to justice is not devoid of obstacles. Kidde-Fenwal Inc., one of the defendants, filed for Section 11 bankruptcy in May 2023 but remains operational due to pending cases requiring potential financial compensation.

The potential bankruptcy of 3M Co. could significantly impact the resolution of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in the AFFF litigation.

According to the National Cancer Institute, their researchers have been relentlessly striving to unveil the connection between firefighting foam and cancer, yielding surprising findings. PFAS chemicals present in AFFF have been identified as potential carcinogens [3].

These chemicals have also been associated with a higher likelihood of developing cancer. Firefighters who are repeatedly exposed to these chemicals are particularly at risk. Studies have found an elevated incidence of cancers.

Nonetheless, the cancer risk is not confined to those directly exposed to AFFF. The PFAS chemicals in AFFF can leach into water supplies, leading to widespread contamination. This has led to a spate of municipal water contamination cases, with residents living near areas where AFFF was used extensively and also at risk.

Does Firefighting Foam Contain PFAS?

As stated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, firefighting foam does contain PFAS, a group of artificial chemicals that are extremely resistant to heat, water, and oil [4].

Elevated levels of PFAS have been observed in firefighters’ blood serum in recent studies. Possible sources of occupational exposure to PFAS include turnout gear, aqueous film-forming foam, and air and dust at both the fire scene and fire station – National Library of Medicine

Their remarkable effectiveness in firefighting applications is overshadowed by the fact that they do not break down easily in the environment or the human body, which has earned them the moniker ‘forever chemicals’.

The health implications of this are severe, with PFAS exposure linked to various health issues and cancers.

Common Injuries Linked To Firefighting Foam PFAS

The injuries linked to firefighting foam PFAS are severe and far-reaching. Exposure to AFFF firefighting foam is linked to an increased risk of cancer.

But it’s not just cancer. PFAS exposure is linked to a wide spectrum of health issues affecting developmental, metabolic, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, neurological, and reproductive systems.

Who Qualifies for the AFFF Lawsuit in North Carolina?

Individuals who have experienced substantial and frequent exposure to AFFF over the years, with multiple occurrences, and who file their lawsuit within the state’s specified statutes of limitation qualify for the AFFF lawsuit in North Carolina.

An AFFF lawsuit must be filed within a limited time window. It is important to act swiftly in these cases. This makes it imperative for affected firefighters to seek for firefighter foam attorney promptly to preserve their right to compensation.

How Do AFFF Lawsuits Work?

AFFF lawsuits work as a complex legal process, with new cases being filed continuously. As of the current status, a pivotal bellwether trial is scheduled for June, and a Case Management Conference is set for March 1, 2024. The outcome of this bellwether trial is expected to play a crucial role in shaping settlement negotiations for future AFFF lawsuits.

Nonetheless, the journey is not entirely seamless. Concern exists regarding the potential bankruptcy of 3M and its impact on settlement negotiations for AFFF lawsuits. Moreover, the total number of pending AFFF lawsuits has reached 6,994, demonstrating the growth of legal actions against AFFF manufacturers.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits Settlement Amounts in North Carolina

A wide range exists regarding settlement amounts in AFFF lawsuits. The factors that influence these amounts include:

  • The plaintiffs’ exposure level to PFAS
  • The severity of their medical diagnoses
  • The potential for punitive damages

That being said, lawyers are estimating that average settlement payouts for AFFF cases, assuming a global settlement is achieved, might range between $300,000 and $450,000.

There have been some notable settlements already, including:

  • A $17.5 million settlement with Johnson Controls, the producer of Tyco Fire Products PFAS-containing firefighting foam
  • Major manufacturers like 3M agreeing to up to $10.3 billion in settlements
  • DuPont and its subsidiaries settling for $1.18 billion in municipal drinking water contamination lawsuits

Potential Compensation for Victims of Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits in North Carolina

North Carolina firefighters diagnosed with cancer related to AFFF exposure have the right to pursue compensation through lawsuits. Successful AFFF lawsuits can yield compensation through settlements outside of court or verdicts awarded by a trial.

As the settlement negotiations for North Carolina firefighters are in progress, expectations are that a settlement could be reached within the first half of 2024.

Filing a North Carolina Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

Initiating an AFFF lawsuit in North Carolina entails satisfying certain legal prerequisites. This includes:

  • Demonstrating substantial and frequent exposure to AFFF
  • Adhering to the state’s statutes of limitation
  • Presenting evidence of injuries, as the lawsuits are based on personal injury

AFFF lawsuits are complex and require expert legal advice. It’s crucial to seek the services of experienced AFFF lawyers who can guide you through the process, help gather the necessary evidence, and ensure your case is filed within the specified time limits.

Types of Evidence To Present

Submission of the appropriate evidence is vital in an AFFF lawsuit. This includes:

  • Medical records, which provide proof of the medical diagnosis
  • Employment history to demonstrate exposure to AFFF
  • Expert testimony may be used to establish the link between the plaintiff’s exposure to AFFF and their subsequent health issues

North Carolina Statute of Limitation

In North Carolina, the statutes of limitation impose stringent deadlines for instituting personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Typically, personal injury claims must be filed within three years, and wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of diagnosis or discovery of the injury.

It’s crucial to file a claim within these timeframes, as failing to do so could result in the dismissal of the case, regardless of its merits.

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Have you or a loved one been injured or exposed to a toxic chemical at work or in the home that has caused a severe life-threatening side effect, illness, disease, or death?

Get Your Free Consultation From North Carolina Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyers

Schmidt & Clark, LLP stands ready to assist during these pivotal moments. Should you or a loved one have suffered due to firefighting foam exposure, reach out without delay. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in such claims and will walk you through each step of the legal journey.

It’s critical to comprehend your rights and determine your qualification for a firefighting foam lawsuit. We offer complimentary consultations, and our no-win, no-fee guarantee means you incur no costs unless we secure a favorable resolution for your case.

Reference:

  1. https://lawsuitlegalnews.com/news/afff-lawsuit-updates/
  2. https://dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/pfas/firefighting-foam
  3. https://dceg.cancer.gov/research/what-we-study/pfas
  4. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/index.html

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