Read the full article by Paula Gardner (MLive)
“Costs of cleanup are climbing along with the number of contamination sites in Michigan, where PFAS made and packaged across the U.S. touches the drinking water of at least 1.9 million state residents.
At the same time, chemical giant 3M is worth more than $96 billion.
So who should pay for the cleanup?
The state plans to turn to litigation against chemical companies that made and distributed the per- and polyfluorinated chemicals to shift the cost burden from residents. The goal, said Attorney General Dana Nessel, is to recoup costs that include finding alternative water supplies, staffing a state-run lab, responding to health concerns and cleaning up environmental damage.
‘Our state will spend hundreds of millions of dollars addressing these problems – costs that should not be borne by the people who live, work and play here,’ said Nessel in May, when she announced the plan to sue both PFAS and opioid makers.
‘Many of those same people were poisoned here and we will make those responsible pay for their greed.’
It’s not a new idea: Minnesota won an $850 million settlement against 3M in February 2018, and other states also have filed lawsuits. In summer 2018, then-Gov. Rick Snyder requested then-Attorney General Bill Schuette to file suit against 3M. Among the chemical company’s clients over the years: Wolverine World Wide, identified as the source of a 25-square-mile contamination plume in Northern Kent County…
Here is an inside glimpse into what we know so far about Michigan’s planned legal fight against PFAS makers:
Collectively, they’re called ‘The Fields Team.’
They are Fields PLLC of Washington, D.C.; Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL of Cincinnati, Ohio; and DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC of Chicago.
The team has PFAS experience, it told the state: It ‘has been or is currently being retained by states, municipalities, and water companies to represent their interests related to litigation concerning contamination by PFAS.’ More clients were expected at the time of the filing.
Experience includes litigation against General Motors Corp. in Michigan by Fields; and multiple large environmental claims in Ohio by KMK. Together, they’ve involved in multi-state opioid litigation. The DiCello firm, meanwhile, had roles in well-known data breach class actions, like Equifax and Marriott.
The team promised that it would not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ due to previous experience with the chemicals. And it suggested that this state’s efforts could lead the way for further lawsuits among other states…
The strategy direction: The state should file claims in state court and only assert state law claims to avoid federal removal and possible consolidation with a future multi-jurisdiction proceeding. It also should ‘aggressively pursue claims in state courts with specific trial calendars to maximize their settlement bargaining power and potential settlement recovery,’ it said…”