If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and believe that your exposure to firefighting foam may have contributed to the disease, you may be eligible to file a cancer lawsuit against the manufacturer of said product and the government entities responsible.
However, lawsuits are not filed simply because someone gets sick. There are certain steps involved with filing this type of claim that must be followed for it to succeed.
This article will provide an overview of those steps, what they involve and why they’re necessary, and why having an experienced attorney by your side is crucial.
Firefighting Foam and Its Link to Cancer
Firefighting foam has long been used by firefighters to extinguish fuel fires, but the foam contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that are used in a variety of products, including firefighting foam, and they do not break down easily in the environment. As a result, these chemicals can accumulate in the body over time, increasing the risk of cancer and other illnesses.
The Lund Report notes that The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a groundbreaking study in 2013, analyzing cancer incidence rates among 30,000 firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco from 1950 to 2009.
The study revealed that firefighters are 9% more likely to develop cancer and 14% more likely to succumb to it than the general population in the United States. In June, the cancer research group of the World Health Organization elevated firefighting to “Group 1 – carcinogenic to humans.”
The Process of Filing a Cancer Lawsuit
Filing a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit typically involves several steps. The first step is to identify an attorney with experience in handling these types of cases. The attorney can help gather evidence, such as medical records, to support the claim that exposure to PFAS-containing firefighting foam caused cancer.
Once the evidence has been gathered, the attorney will file a complaint in court, outlining the allegations against the defendants and seeking compensation for damages.
According to TorHoerman Law, LLC (THL), one of the law firms representing the case, the defendants in AFFF lawsuits are the manufacturers that supplied firefighting foam to various entities such as fire departments, military bases, and airports. The accused companies consist of DuPont, 3M, Chemours, Chemguard Inc, Tyco Fire Products, ChemDesign Inc, and over a dozen other firms.
The Pre-Trial Discovery Process
The pre-trial discovery process is a critical phase in a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit.
JD Supra notes that the process of discovery is an essential element in civil litigation as it allows both parties to obtain the necessary information to aid in the resolution of their disputes.
The discovery process encompasses the collection of evidence and other pertinent data from each side of the case, which facilitates negotiations for a settlement and narrows down the issues in contention. This expedites the trial proceedings.
Discovery can also help encourage settlement negotiations, as both parties may gain a better understanding of the potential outcomes if the case proceeds to trial.
The Possibility of Settlement Negotiations
In firefighting foam cancer lawsuits, settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods are always possible. Settlement negotiations may occur at any stage of the litigation process and involve discussions between the plaintiff and defendant, their attorneys, and potentially a mediator or arbitrator.
In some cases, the parties may agree to resolve the matter outside of court through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration. This can be a quicker and less expensive option than going to trial and may be preferable for both parties.
The Potential Outcomes of a Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit
The potential outcomes of a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit can vary depending on the specifics of each case. If the case goes to trial, the jury will determine whether or not the defendants are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and, if so, the number of damages to be awarded.
These damages can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses. Alternatively, the parties may choose to settle the case before trial, often through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods. The amount of any settlement or verdict will depend on the strength of the evidence presented and the specific damages suffered by the plaintiff.
According to AboutLawsuits.com, for the initial bellwether trial, a PFAS water contamination lawsuit was chosen by the Court, and scheduled to be presented to a jury in 2023. Though the results of the first trial will not be binding for firefighters or other complainants, they will be closely monitored and may impact future settlement discussions concerning PFAS cancer hazards.
The Possibility of Appeals and the Appellate Process
After a verdict or settlement award, appeals in the firefighting foam cancer lawsuit can be made. An appeal is a legal process in which a higher court reviews the decisions made in the lower court.
Appeals can be made by either party in the case and can be based on various legal issues, such as errors in evidence or jury instructions. The appellate process can involve a review of written briefs and oral arguments, and the decision can take several months or even years to be reached.
If the appeal is successful, the case may be retried in a lower court, or the parties may choose to negotiate a settlement. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the original verdict or settlement award stands.
In summary, firefighters are being exposed to chemicals they did not know were toxic and should not be used as firefighting foams. The long-term effects of these chemicals could lead to serious health problems including cancer.
In case you or someone close to you has developed cancer due to exposure to firefighting foam while on the job, it is recommended to consult an attorney at the earliest opportunity to explore your legal alternatives.