Clean water is perhaps one of the most take-for-granted aspects of life in the United States. I, for one, assume I use clean water each day due to living in a metropolitan area adjacent to one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. This is especially true after the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago launched a new facility earlier this year that scrubs out and recycles phosphorus, which fuels the growth of algae blooms that can affect drinking water. Others are not so fortunate. For example, mid-December marked the third time that a federal court has told the State of Michigan that it must begin delivering bottled water to households in Flint.
Water cleanliness is not solely affected by public officials, however. As alleged in a recent environmental class action lawsuit, 3M Co. and other defendants manufactured and sold a fire retardant known as acqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”) that contains toxic chemicals. When large quantities of AFFF would be used in training exercises on certain military bases in eastern Pennsylvania, nearby water supplies allegedly became contaminated. The lawsuit alleges residents were exposed to the chemicals for years until environmental officials informed them that the chemical concentrations were well above safe drinking levels. This exposure is associated with increased risk of testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, and other conditions according to the complaint. The case is Bates et al. v. The 3M Co. et al., No. 2:16-cv-04961, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Sound familiar? It should. Just like the lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company that involved contaminated drinking water and was made famous by the film, Erin Brockovich, this new lawsuit is also being spearheaded, in part, by Erin Brockovich, who has continued to advocate over the years for those exposed to environmental contamination. Whether it is through clean water, non-defective consumer products, or safe medical devices, Wexler Wallace LLP supports efforts like these to hold the powerful accountable for conduct that harms the public.