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South Dakota Firefighter Foam Lawsuit: Get the Right Attorney

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

If you’re searching for information on the South Dakota firefighter foam lawsuit, you’ve come to the right place. This article delves into the claims that long-term exposure to AFFF firefighting foam has led to severe health outcomes, including cancer.

We’ll explain the ongoing lawsuits, identify the accused companies, and explore who may be eligible for compensation in South Dakota.

If you or a loved one has been affected by exposure to firefighting foam, Schmidt & Clark LLP stands ready to support you. With a reputation for excellence in plaintiff representation, our primary goal is to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you are entitled to.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits

In a wave of lawsuits that span from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, South Dakotans are challenging chemical behemoths, alleging that the toxic chemicals in firefighting foam have led to cancers, hormonal issues, and gastrointestinal diseases.

The escalating number of firefighting foam cancer lawsuits across the state has led to the formation of a complex multidistrict litigation (MDL) framework. This legal structure aims to provide proper compensation for the long-term and serious health issues resulting from AFFF exposure.

With hundreds of individuals claiming kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and other health issues, the legal proceedings have become a focal point for justice and compensation.

Central to these AFFF foam lawsuits is AFFF, a firefighting foam deployed in training drills and for extinguishing petroleum fires. The foam, while effective in its purpose, has been linked to serious health issues, leading to a surge of AFFF firefighting foam cases.

These cases have turned into a hotly contested arena, with the plaintiffs charging that the companies were aware of the risks yet failed to alert users or implement sufficient safeguards.

Key Points from Lawsuits

The firefighting foam cancer lawsuits have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the United States Federal Court in the District of South Carolina. This MDL is a legal strategy used to handle complex cases with common issues, like the AFFF lawsuits.

The process involves steps such as discovery, pretrial motions, and the submission of a list of personal injury plaintiffs for potential bellwether trial cases.

As the MDL progresses, settlement mediation sessions are being held, signaling a coordinated push toward achieving settlements in these cases. The outcomes of these lawsuits, including the first bellwether trial, could lead to the establishment of a settlement fund for those affected. This could result in significant compensation for victims, providing a degree of justice for the harm they have suffered.

What Is AFFF?

According to the Division of Spill Prevention and Response 2023 study, AFFF is a firefighting foam specifically designed for extinguishing fuel fires, known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam [1]. Its widespread use, however, has led to significant controversy due to the inclusion of PFAS chemicals, which are persistent in the environment and the human body, earning them the disturbing title of “forever chemicals.”

The employment of AFFF in firefighting and training drills has caused extensive exposure to these detrimental chemicals. This exposure, in turn, has been linked to a range of health issues.

The link between AFFF exposure and health issues is the crux of the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits, with plaintiffs seeking compensation for their suffering and loss.

Who Are The Defendants In AFFF Lawsuits in South Dakota?

The defendants in AFFF lawsuits in South Dakota are several major companies, with 3M and DuPont leading the charge. These industrial giants hold a significant stake in the production and distribution of AFFF. They are now facing allegations of negligence for not warning users about the potential health risks associated with their products.

Alongside 3M and DuPont, additional defendants include:

  • Tyco
  • BASF Corp.
  • Chemours
  • and others who have had a hand in the production and distribution of toxic firefighting foam

These companies are facing legal action not only from individuals but also from municipalities and local water authorities making municipal water contamination claims.

These lawsuits have far-reaching implications across South Dakota. Prominent locations such as Sioux Falls and its airport have become part of a class-action lawsuit against these manufacturers. The stakes are high, and the outcomes of these cases could have far-reaching implications for both the defendants and the victims.

According to a 2022 study by the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, the connection between AFFF and cancer is a central issue in firefighting foam cancer lawsuits. Studies have highlighted a worrying link between exposure to AFFF and a range of cancers, including [2]:

Elevated levels of specific PFAS chemicals in blood have been associated with a heightened risk of kidney cancer. In addition, PFAS exposure has been associated with an increased risk of developing prostate and testicular cancer. There are also investigations into links between lung cancer, lymphoma, and AFFF exposure.

Legal proceedings are in progress in South Dakota for individuals diagnosed with various cancers, including kidney and testicular cancer and gastrointestinal illnesses believed to be related.

The legal and medical communities are working hand in hand to establish a scientific linkage between fire foam chemicals and cancer to obtain judgments for compensation.

Does Firefighting Foam Contain PFAS?

As stated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 2022 research, firefighting foam foes contain PFAS chemicals. These chemicals are known for their durability and resistance to heat, water, and oil, which makes them effective in suppressing fires [3]. However, their persistence in the environment and the human body is a cause for concern.

PFAS have been used specifically in some synthetic Class B firefighting foams, including aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

PFAS chemicals have been linked to a range of health issues, including cancer, leading to their inclusion in the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits.

Common Injuries Linked To Firefighting Foam PFAS

AFFF exposure can trigger a variety of health problems, with both immediate and long-term effects. Immediate side effects can include:

  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Respiratory issues
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Neurological symptoms

However, the long-term health risks are of greater concern and are the focus of the AFFF lawsuits. Long-term exposure to AFFF is associated with a heightened risk for developing various forms of cancer, including kidney, testicular, prostate, pancreatic, bladder, and liver cancer, in addition to other illnesses like thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.

Who Qualifies for the AFFF Lawsuit in South Dakota?

Firefighters, military personnel, or residents living near contaminated sites in South Dakota, such as Ellsworth Air Force Base, may qualify for the AFFF lawsuit in South Dakota. These individuals face potential exposure to AFFF, and if they develop health issues as a result, they can seek legal recourse.

Individuals at a higher risk of PFAS exposure from AFFF include:

  • Military firefighters and personnel
  • Civilian firefighters
  • First responders
  • Airport workers
  • Industrial workers

Since the 1970s, AFFF has been utilized by South Dakota’s military and firefighting personnel to combat chemical fires. Consequently, these individuals are at a higher risk of developing health issues linked to AFFF exposure.

How Do AFFF Lawsuits Work?

AFFF lawsuits work by being grouped into multi-district litigation (MDL) to simplify case management, particularly when they encompass common issues like environmental toxins. In an AFFF MDL, all cases are transferred to a single district court before the same judge for discovery and pretrial proceedings.

The MDL process aims to improve efficiency through faster discovery, reduced costs, and greater predictability of outcomes based on bellwether trial precedents. Bellwether trials in an MDL serve to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the lawsuits’ central arguments and can lead to settlement offers or dismissals.

The first AFFF MDL settlement resulted in a $17.5 million victory for plaintiffs, covering property damage and individual disease claims linked to PFAS contamination from firefighting foam.

Individual AFFF lawsuit settlements are determined based on a tier structure, with plaintiffs categorized according to the strength of their cases and the severity of their injuries.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits Settlement Amounts in South Dakota

Settlement amounts in AFFF firefighting foam cases fluctuate based on the unique specifics of each case. On average, top-tier cases, typically involving long-term occupational exposure to AFFF and a diagnosis of more dangerous types of cancer, such as pancreatic or kidney cancer, could receive between $300,000 to $600,000.

Middle-tier plaintiffs, who may have less serious types of cancer, such as testicular or prostate cancer, or have had more limited exposure to the firefighting foam, could receive between $150,000 to $280,000.

However, the trial value of individual AFFF lawsuits can be much higher, potentially resulting in verdicts in the millions. It’s important to note that the amounts mentioned are estimates, and the actual compensation received can vary based on several factors, including:

  • the severity of the health issues
  • the extent of exposure
  • the specifics of each case
  • Potential Compensation for Victims of Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits in South Dakota

In South Dakota, victims of AFFF exposure may potentially be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages. This can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If a victim develops cancer following exposure to firefighting foam contaminated with AFFF, they may be eligible for financial compensation.

The types of cancer potentially compensated include those connected to exposure to AFFF. AFFF/PFAS lawyers in South Dakota work on a contingency basis, requiring no legal fees unless they win financial compensation for the client.

This means that victims can seek legal help without worrying about upfront costs, allowing them to focus on their health and recovery.

Filing a South Dakota Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

Understanding the process is crucial if you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit. Victims can file a lawsuit with the help of a lawyer, who can guide them through the complex legal landscape.

They will need to present evidence and adhere to the statute of limitations, which is a set timeframe within which a lawsuit must be filed to be valid.

Types of Evidence To Present

In AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits, it’s vital to present evidence that establishes a connection between AFFF exposure and cancer. This could include medical records showing the diagnosis and treatment of cancers such as kidney, testicular, prostate, or other types linked to PFAS exposure.

Occupational history or proof of employment in roles that involved regular exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, such as firefighting or airport work, can serve as valuable evidence.

Documentation of long-term exposure to PFAS from AFFF firefighting foam, either through direct occupational contact or through contaminated groundwater, is also pertinent. Expert testimonies and peer-reviewed scientific studies may also be presented as evidence.

South Dakota Statute of Limitation

Typically, the statute of limitations for filing an AFFF lawsuit in South Dakota allows two to three years from the date of injury.

However, there’s a discovery rule in South Dakota that may extend the deadline for filing an AFFF lawsuit. This rule starts when the plaintiff becomes aware of the injury and its connection to the defendant’s negligence.

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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 South Dakota Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyers

At Schmidt & Clark, LLP we stand ready to assist you during these pivotal moments. Should you or a loved one suffer from injuries linked to firefighting foam exposure, reach out to us without delay. Our adept team specializes in such cases and will shepherd you through each step of the legal journey.

It’s crucial to comprehend your legal entitlements and determine your qualification for a firefighting foam lawsuit. We offer complimentary consultations, and you incur no fees unless we secure a favorable verdict or settlement on your behalf. 

For a comprehensive case review concerning firefighting foam exposure, get in touch with Schmidt & Clark. 

Reference:

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

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