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Wisconsin Firefighter Foam Lawsuit: Get the Right Attorney

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

Wisconsin Firefighter Foam Lawsuit
The Wisconsin firefighter foam lawsuit addresses serious health concerns linked to PFAS exposure from AFFF. This article provides targeted insights into why these lawsuits are pivotal for Wisconsin firefighters and residents, who’s at fault, and how those affected can navigate potential compensation claims.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by exposure to firefighting foam, the team at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, stands ready to support you.

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Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits

The story of firefighting foam lawsuit cases is one of rapid escalation and nationwide concern. As of mid-2022, South Carolina was dealing with a staggering 2,586 pending AFFF lawsuits, a figure that underscores the gravity of the issue and its far-reaching implications, including local litigation in Wisconsin.

The following year saw nearly 500 new cases added to the AFFF Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) roster, along with a global settlement announcement for water contamination claims, which could reduce the number of future pending cases.

In a significant turn of events, January 2024 saw 3M, a major defendant in these lawsuits, propose a settlement in the AFFF MDL, suggesting a 13-year plan to assist in the purification of public water systems from PFAS. And it’s not just corporate giants like 3M that are caught up in these lawsuits.

Key Points from Lawsuits

A damning allegation lies at the heart of the AFFF lawsuits: manufacturers were aware of the toxic nature of the chemicals used in firefighting foam but failed to warn users sufficiently. This alleged neglect has led to a spate of personal injury and water contamination claims.

As the lawsuits pile up, the public health implications become increasingly evident. The toxic chemicals found in firefighting foam pose serious health risks, and the failure to adequately warn users has left countless individuals facing an uncertain future.

November 2023 marked a staggering 6,400 total pending claims in the AFFF MDL, highlighting the growing number of firefighting foam lawsuits. This significant increase in litigation connected to firefighting foam paints a vivid picture of the scale of the problem.

It’s a silent crisis unfolding right before our eyes, with firefighters, military personnel, and residents in contaminated areas bearing the brunt of the health implications.

The federal inquiry into this matter determined that AFFF manufacturers, such as Tyco Fire Products LP, deny these allegations and dispute the factual, scientific, and medical bases of the plaintiffs’ claims.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that thousands of individuals are involved in these lawsuits, many of them suffering from serious health problems. The scale of the litigation is a testament to the urgency of the issue and the dire need for justice.

What Is AFFF?

According to a 2022 research by the Division of Spill Prevention and Response, AFFF is also known as Aqueous Film-Forming Foam and it has been a staple in firefighting since the 1970s. This foam is utilized to combat liquid fuel fires, as it forms a blanket over the liquid, preventing flammable vapors from escaping [1].

Occupational exposure of firefighters to carcinogenic chemicals may increase their risk of developing different types of cancer – National Library of Medicine

This helps to extinguish the fire and prevent re-ignition. But there’s a sinister side to this seemingly innocuous substance. AFFF contains harmful Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), chemicals that have been linked to an array of cancers and health issues.

Who Are The Defendants In AFFF Lawsuits in Wisconsin?

The defendants in AFFF lawsuits in Wisconsin are primarily the manufacturers of the firefighting foam, which include major corporations like 3M, DuPont, Chemours, and Tyco Fire Products.

These manufacturers are accused of producing AFFF containing harmful PFAS chemicals. These lawsuits allege that these manufacturers were aware of the carcinogenicity and toxicity of AFFF but did not sufficiently warn users, leading to personal injury and water contamination claims.

Liability in these cases is sought to be established by demonstrating negligence, breach of duty, and a causal connection between the defendant’s actions and the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs.

As stated in a 2023 study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the connection between firefighting foam and cancer is due to the PFAS chemicals contained within the foam. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals is associated with a higher risk of developing various types of cancer [2].

A significant number of scientific studies have established a connection between PFAS in the blood serum and the development of:

Firefighters, especially those working at airports and military bases with regular exposure to PFAS-containing foams, are at an elevated risk for these cancers. They may have higher concentrations of PFAS in their blood, placing them at an elevated risk.

Over time, PFAS chemicals can accumulate in various organs, like the pancreas, leading to conditions like oxidative stress that can promote the progression of cancer.

Does Firefighting Foam Contain PFAS?

According to a 2022 research by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, firefighting foam does contain PFAS. These forever chemicals have been used in AFFF since the 1970s to fight liquid fuel fires due to their durability and resistance to heat, water, and oil [3].

However, it’s their very persistence that makes them a grave concern. PFAS are extremely persistent, not breaking down in the environment, and thus remain in water, soil, and air indefinitely.

The specific potential health risks from PFAS exposure through AFFF are affected by the type and concentration of PFAS as well as exposure duration, leading to their dangerous accumulation in the human body.

Alarmingly, by the end of the 1980s, research conducted by AFFF manufacturers indicated that workers exposed to PFAS had a higher likelihood of developing cancer. This information, however, was not disseminated to the public or those using the products.

Common Injuries Linked To Firefighting Foam PFAS

Primarily, cancers and other serious health conditions are the common injuries linked to PFAS exposure from firefighting foam. High concentrations of PFAS in the blood serum are associated with several types of cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which attacks the body’s immune system.

Breast cancer, which is common among women in the Western world, has been associated with exposure to toxins such as PFAS, which may disrupt hormone levels and weaken the body’s ability to fight pathogens.

Firefighters have been shown to have increased rates of leukemia, correlating with the frequency of fires they extinguish and their exposure to carcinogens, including PFAS. A significant correlation also exists between firefighters under 65 years old and the development of bladder and prostate cancers, with PFAS exposure being a contributing factor.

Liver cirrhosis and liver cancer have been linked to higher concentrations of PFAS in the blood, as PFAS can cause damage to the immune system, including the liver.

Who Qualifies for the AFFF Lawsuit in Wisconsin?

Those in Wisconsin who have been diagnosed with cancers such as testicular, prostate, pancreatic, liver, kidney, or breast cancer and may have been exposed to AFFF in contaminated areas qualify for the AFFF lawsuit in Wisconsin.

Areas in Wisconsin with high AFFF contamination include:

  • Tyco-Ansul Fire Technology Center in Marinette County
  • Marinette, WI
  • Madison, WI
  • The vicinity of Truax Field Air National Guard Base at Dane County Regional Airport

Residents from these residential property areas may qualify for class action lawsuits. Plaintiffs in the AFFF lawsuits typically include firefighters, military personnel, and chemical plant workers who have been exposed to AFFF firefighting foam and have developed serious health problems as a result.

Individuals who lived or worked near areas with heavy AFFF use, such as military bases or airports, and have been diagnosed with cancer or other health issues believed to be linked to PFAS exposure may also qualify for the lawsuit.

How Do AFFF Lawsuits Work?

AFFF lawsuits work by consolidating several thousand individual cases against AFFF manufacturers into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to streamline pretrial proceedings.

This MDL has grown significantly, with 351 new cases added in just over a month, culminating in a total of 6,994 pending cases. The MDL’s timeline progresses as follows:

  • Case management orders are issued to select claims for the next bellwether trial pool.
  • Further case management conferences are scheduled
  • The first bellwether trial began in May 2023
  • A schedule for the Telomer water contamination cases was established, impacting the overall MDL timeline

Navigating Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in South Carolina

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a process that consolidates cases with common questions of fact in different districts before one judge for pretrial proceedings. In the case of the AFFF lawsuits, the MDL has been assigned to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

The MDL’s timeline is progressing, with case management orders being issued to select claims for the next bellwether trial pool and the scheduling of further case management conferences.

Bellwether trials play a crucial role in MDLs. They are “test” trials that help both sides gauge how juries might respond to the evidence and arguments presented, potentially influencing the outcomes of other cases in the MDL. In the AFFF MDL, the first bellwether trial began in May 2023, potentially setting precedents for subsequent cases and potential settlements.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits Settlement Amounts in Wisconsin

Depending on the specifics of each case, settlement amounts in firefighting foam cancer lawsuits can vary greatly. However, there have been some cases in Wisconsin that have resulted in significant payouts.

For example, a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit settlement in Wisconsin involved a total payment of $15 million to class members, which included $11 million for property class damages and $4 million for exposure class damages.

The case, known as Campbell v. Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemguard Inc., and ChemDesign Products Inc., was part of a multidistrict litigation proceeding before the Federal Court in South Carolina. The settlement provided compensation for damages due to exposure to PFAS as well as for loss of property value due to the presence of PFAS in private well drinking water.

Potential Compensation for Victims of Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits in Wisconsin

In an AFFF lawsuit, compensation may include:

Economic damages like medical bills and lost earning capacity can be quantified with documentation such as employment or military records, medical records, and treatment plans.

Non-economic damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, while less tangible, can often have a higher value than economic damages. Firefighters diagnosed with cancer due to PFAS exposure may pursue financial compensation for medical expenses and damages, eligibility dependent on exposure level, long-term prognosis, and seriousness of illness.

Filing a Wisconsin Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

The process begins by consulting with a specialized attorney, drafting and filing a complaint, serving it to the defendants, and potentially proceeding to settlement negotiations or trial within the applicable statute of limitations.

Types of Evidence To Present

Compelling evidence is required to build a strong case. This includes employment records to establish AFFF exposure and medical records to verify cancer diagnoses, which may necessitate expert testimony given the complex nature of environmental law.

These pieces of evidence are crucial in proving exposure to AFFF and its link to the plaintiff’s health condition.

Wisconsin Statute of Limitation

In Wisconsin, as in many other states, there is a statute of limitations that applies to AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits, which sets a legal deadline for when potential plaintiffs must initiate their claims.

It is crucial to be aware that this timeframe can vary. Still, often, the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims is within three years from the date of diagnosis in Wisconsin.

This means that those diagnosed with conditions potentially linked to AFFF exposure must act promptly to ensure their lawsuit is filed before the expiration of these critical years.

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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?

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Schmidt & Clark, LLP is here to offer support in critical times. If you or a family member has experienced injuries due to exposure to firefighting foam, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team has expertise in managing such cases and will guide you through every part of the process.

You need to understand your legal rights and assess if you are eligible for a firefighting foam lawsuit. Our consultations are always free, and you will not face any charges unless we achieve a positive outcome in your case.

Contact Schmidt & Clark today for a thorough evaluation of your case related to firefighting foam. Let us be your reliable ally in navigating this challenging situation.



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