In February 2023, we wrote regarding a PFAS pollution lawsuit filed by Illinois against manufacturers of PFAS seeking damages for alleged contamination in the state. Within the last month, two other states – Maine and Kentucky – have joined the fray, becoming the latest states seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in PFAS pollution damages from PFAS manufacturers. While the lawsuits target a narrowly tailored set of companies, lawsuits in other states have already demonstrated that downstream commerce corporations are at risk of being involved in lawsuits seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.
Maine PFAS Lawsuits
Maine’s Attorney General filed two lawsuits seeking PFAS remediation costs from various PFAS and AFFF manufacturers. In one lawsuit, the state specifically targets companies that manufactured PFAS and AFFF products, with the lawsuit alleging that the AFFF products have cause considerable damage to the environment in the state of Maine. In the second lawsuit, the state argues that non-AFFF products that were manufactured and/or used in the state of Maine contributed to PFAS contamination in the state.
The state is seeking costs related to investigating, cleaning up, restoring, treating, monitoring and “otherwise responding” to the contamination of Maine’s groundwater, surface water, soil and other natural resources.
Kentucky PFAS Lawsuit
In early April 2023, the state of Kentucky also filed its own lawsuit against Dupont and various subsidiary and spinoff entities. The lawsuit alleged that the Washington Works PFAS manufacturing facility in Parkersburg, West Virginia contributed to PFAS contamination throughout Kentucky due to industrial effluent discharge for decades. The state is seeking the costs of cleanup, investigation and monitoring from Dupont.
Implications For Downstream Manufacturers
While the Maine and Kentucky PFAS lawsuit targets PFAS manufacturers, companies should not dismiss the lawsuit as an event unlikely to impact them in any way. On the contrary, in other states, including California, companies have been directly named as defendants in lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in PFAS remediation costs. Corporations should not ignore the pollution and environmental contamination issues that PFAS pose, as states, federal and state regulatory agencies, and even private citizens are actively seeking damages from companies that they believe placed PFAS into the environment. All companies of all types would be well advised to conduct a complete compliance audit to best understand areas of concern for PFAS liability issues, and ways to mitigate PFAS concerns.