Weitz & Luxenberg, in partnership with The Miller Law Firm and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, has filed the first class action lawsuit against Wolverine World Wide, 3M Corporation and Waste Management Inc. for dumping toxic waste and polluting groundwater in Belmont, Rockford and other areas in Kent County, MI. The environmental lawsuit seeks immediate blood testing, monitoring, and damages for residents who have been harmed by the pollution.
Consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, who is working with the legal team and has championed the cause of PFAS victims in Kent County, said: “The scope of this contamination is alarming, and thousands in Kent County are now faced with unsafe drinking water and increased health risks. This lawsuit puts these corporations on notice that they will be held accountable for their actions and should make it clear to other corporate polluters that they can’t get away with poisoning our water.”
According to the complaint, footwear manufacturer Wolverine World Wide dumped waste containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, from 3M’s Scotchgard product at more than 75 sites in Kent County. PFAS exposure can cause serious health problems, including cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and developmental and reproductive problems.
Wolverine used Scotchgard to waterproof the leather in its shoes and boots beginning in the 1950s. The lawsuit alleges that Wolverine and 3M were aware of Scotchgard’s dangers to human health for decades, but covered up the truth until unrelated groundwater testing revealed the contamination in the summer and fall of 2017. Waste Management is alleged to have participated by transporting, dumping, and maintaining contaminated materials throughout the region.
Limited testing has revealed high levels of PFAS in the areas where the dumping occurred. The scope of the contamination has expanded greatly in recent months as authorities continue to investigate and residents come forward to identify new dump sites. Some residents have found PFASs in their wells beyond the current guidelines set by government agencies, and many residents have been warned not to drink water from their wells for the foreseeable future.
Erin Brockovich will join the three law firms at a community meeting to explain next steps in the litigation and answer questions from residents. The evening meeting will be held the week of December 11, 2017 at a date and time to be announced shortly.
W&L has led other class action lawsuits on behalf of residents with contaminated water, most recently in Hoosick Falls, NY. In February 2016, the firm filed a lawsuit against Saint-Gobain and Honeywell related to PFOA contamination of Hoosick Falls’ water supply. In July 2016, the firm filed the first personal injury lawsuit related to the water contamination in the area, alleging that exposure to PFOA directly caused the plaintiff’s ulcerative colitis and other illnesses.