PHILADELPHIA – A Bucks County woman is one of more than a dozen plaintiffs alleging exposure to carcinogenic chemical agents found in local drinking water supposedly contaminated by a number of corporate defendants, including 3M.
Kathleen Kervin of Warminster first filed suit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 17 versus 3M, Angus Fire, Ansul, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company and National Foam.
According to the litigation, the defendants are all manufacturers of fire suppression products, including aqueous film forming foam, that contained water-soluble toxins such as perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which have been in production use for more than 60 years.
“Once water is contaminated by PFOA or PFOS, it cannot be removed by boiling the water or using chlorine and other disinfectants that are typically added to public drinking water systems. Toxicology studies show that PFOS and PFOA are readily absorbed after oral exposure and accumulate primarily in the serum, kidney and liver,” the suit says.
“PFOA and PFOS exposure is associated with increased risk of various diseases and cancers in humans, including, but not limited to: Testicular cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, disorders such as thyroid disease, liver disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and increased uric acid, as well as other conditions. Injuries, however, are not sudden: Rather, they can arise months, years or decades after exposure to PFOA and PFOS.”
AFFF was sold to the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and Pennsylvania Air National Guard, who used the substance at various naval vessels and military bases, NASSJRB-Willow Grove and Naval Air Warfare Center, the lawsuit says.
During its intended use for firefighting and explosion training, the harmful and defective products were released into the environment, contaminating the soil and groundwater of the bases, migrated into the groundwater and eventually into the drinking/potable water of the plaintiff, the lawsuit claims.
Subsequent well testing by the Warminster Public Authority and Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) confirmed the strong presence of PFOA and PFOS in the nearby drinking water, the lawsuit claims.
Though 3M ceased production of AFFF manufactured with PFOA and PFOS in 2002, it allegedly knew of the risks it would pose to both the environment and human health.
On Oct. 9, attorneys for defendant Chemguard moved to remove the case to the federal level, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Reasons for the transfer, according to defense counsel, were complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the Federal Officer Removal Statute.
Kervin's suit is one of more than a dozen now being litigated in federal court in Philadelphia.
For counts of negligence, defective product and design defect, the plaintiffs are seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000.
The plaintiff is represented by Mark R. Cuker of Cuker Law Firm in Philadelphia and W. Steven Berman of Napoli Shkolnik in Marlton, N.J.
The defendants are represented by Basil A. DiSipio of Lavin O’Neil Cedrone & DeSipio, Erin P. Loucks of Shook Hardy & Bacon and Keith E. Smith of Greenberg Traurig, all in Philadelphia.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania cases 2:18-cv-04355 Et.Al
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas cases 2018-20572 Et.Al
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org