Water Contamination Cases Moving to Trial as Judge Denies All Defendants’ Summary Judgment

A federal judge rejected an attempted defense lodged by the manufacturers of AFFF and chemicals used to make AFFF.  The chemical companies argued they could not be held liable for harms caused by including “forever chemicals” in fire-fighters foams because they had provided foams to the United States military, and the military had constrained their design choices.  Judge Richard Gergel, who oversees thousands of similar cases against the companies, found that although the military required fire-fighting foams to meet certain performance requirements, it never required the use of any particular chemical in foams.  Moreover, the judge found that the companies had concealed evidence that the products could cause harm.  Although the evidence before the court demonstrated that 3M “knowingly withheld highly material information about the defects and risks associated with its AFFF product,” the judge found that there is a factual dispute regarding the other manufacturers’ knowledge that a jury must decide.  The cases will now proceed to trial, with the first case scheduled to be tried in early 2023.