Tyco Fire Products is a major manufacturer of “firefighting foam,” also known as aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The product is very effective at putting out liquid fuel fires, but the cleanup is challenging.
The problem is that firefighting foam contains PFAS, which are cancer-causing chemicals that accumulate in the human body and take thousands of years to break down in the environment.
Tyco operated a Fire Training Center in Marinette, Wisconsin. The facility spilled wastewater containing PFAS chemicals from firefighting foam that contaminated groundwater for the nearby town of Peshtigo, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In a landmark class action settlement, the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin has agreed to a $17.5 million payout with Tyco Fire Products due to well-water contamination from PFAS in firefighting foam.
The settlement is the first in the country to deal with property damage, injuries, and medical expenses from toxic firefighting foam.
Lawyers estimate that around 1,100 people in roughly 270 homes will be covered by the settlement.
The payout will include $15 million for class-wide claims, such as property damage. Each household will get an estimated payout of $60,000 to $70,000, depending on the level of contamination.
Community members with disease claims could receive $2.5 million if they were diagnosed with testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, or pre-eclampsia.
Tyco has also promised to pay for a new water line that will give Peshtigo residents a permanent source of clean drinking water.
There are currently more than 900 firefighting foam lawsuits pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of South Carolina.
All of the lawsuits allege that firefighting foams with PFAS chemicals contaminated groundwater near military bases, airports, and other industrial sites where the foam was used to extinguish liquid fuel fires.
The plaintiffs allege that they suffered personal injuries, a need for medical monitoring, property damage, or other economic losses.
The case is Campbell v. Tyco Fire Products et al. — Case Number 2:19-cv-00422. It is part of the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation — MDL Number 2:18-MN-2873.