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City of Stuart Water Contamination Lawsuit Potential AFFF Bellwether

June 15, 2021
Home Firm News City of Stuart Water Contamination Lawsuit Potential AFFF Bellwether

UPDATE: In June 2023, our attorneys negotiated a financial settlement between the City of Stuart, Florida and 3M over toxic PFAS chemicals contaminating the groundwater.

Attorneys from Weitz & Luxenberg have partnered with Morgan & Morgan to represent the City of Stuart, FL in a lawsuit against Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) manufacturers for allegedly contaminating the public water system. The City filed the lawsuit in 2018 after learning it would have to undergo expensive remediation after the local public water supply was contaminated with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The case was subsequently transferred to a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, where cases from around the country against AFFF manufacturers have been consolidated. Recently, the City of Stuart’s case was selected, along with nine other cases brought by public water providers, for bellwether discovery in the MDL, meaning it could be one of the first cases selected to go to trial.

“There is nothing more vital to the health and safety of the public, than clean drinking water for residents, visitors, and local businesses,” says Robin Greenwald, head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental Practice Group. “We are proud to represent the City of Stuart in the fight for its residents’ access to clean water. Together, we will hold these corporations accountable for recklessly endangering the water supply and ensure that they take responsibility for cleaning it.”

According to the complaint, the chemicals found in the city’s water supply came from firefighting foam manufactured and distributed by defendants that include 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Protection Company, Chemguard, and National Foam, Inc. and used by Stuart Fire Rescue. The lawsuit alleges that the makers of AFFF were aware of the health risks associated with the component chemicals but failed to properly warn the City of Stuart or Stuart Fire Rescue about the toxic, carcinogenic chemicals it contained. As a result, local firefighters used the product for years, unaware of the dangerous chemicals that were contaminating local water wells.

Prior to the discovery of PFOA and PFOS, the City of Stuart’s water system previously won numerous awards, recognizing its system operation and for “best tasting water.” The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the cost of remediating the water in Stuart and to ensure that the foam manufacturers, not the taxpayers, are responsible for the water treatment costs.

Weitz & Luxenberg has experience representing municipalities and residents in water contamination lawsuits against powerful corporations who contributed to PFOS and PFOA pollution. Our attorneys are currently representing residents in ongoing lawsuits in two villages in upstate New York, Petersburgh and Hoosick Falls, as well as the town of Merrimack, New Hampshire and Kent County, Michigan.

PFOS and PFOA are synthetic substances used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, dental floss, electrical insulation, fabrics, and other products. Studies have shown that PFOS and PFOA exposure over time can cause serious health risks and disease including testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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