Did Flame Retardant Materials Give Firefighters Cancer?
Former employees of Florida State have joined a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers of flame-retardant chemicals that they claim cause cancer. The lawsuit states that the area around the Florida State Fire College showed elevated levels of these chemicals in topsoil, three wells, groundwater, and the air in areas immediately surrounding the campus. According to the lawsuit, these chemicals allegedly cause breast cancer, thyroid problems, and kidney cancer. Local health departments are reaching out to residents who may have been affected by the contamination. Those who live in the area can contact the Department of Health in Marion County at 352-644-2623.
Who are the Defendants?
The case names at least 10 defendants including Tyco Fire Products, 3M Company, and Chemguard. Each of these companies was responsible for producing the flame-retardant chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA. These chemicals were distributed to airports and industrial workplaces as well as fire departments across the country.
Many of these companies voluntarily phased out the use of these chemicals as early as 2001 when concerns were raised about their possible toxicity. Tests on the chemicals revealed that they are possible carcinogens and their ability to concentrate in the liver and kidney is implicated in potential health disorders.
Phasing Out the Chemical Was Not Enough
PFOS and PFOA do not biodegrade like other chemicals. They stay in groundwater and topsoil where they remain dangerous to those who are around them. For this reason, lawsuits are still emerging that target the companies for adverse medical effects. For that reason, attorneys representing the plaintiffs have petitioned the courts to create a class for those injured by the chemicals. Not only must the victims of the chemicals be compensated for their medical expenses and pain and suffering, but there may be wrongful death lawsuits that also need to be settled. In addition, the companies must fund projects that are aimed at cleaning up the residual chemicals that injured the firefighters-in-training at Florida State.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs believe that these companies were well aware of the potential carcinogenic properties of their chemicals when they began to phase them out. They also allege that the companies knew that the chemicals were not biodegradable and thus efforts would need to be main to clean the areas that were contaminated with them.
If this is true, the companies could be on the hook for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded as a means of punishing a defendant for gross negligence and misconduct. In this case, not warning the authorities or health officials that the chemical would not biodegrade and thus posed a threat to future victims caused a number of individuals to become unnecessarily poisoned by their chemicals. Foreknowledge in a case like this is grounds for punitive damages since these injuries could have been avoided had the company come clean, so to speak, about their toxic chemicals.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today
The Miami team at the office of Alan Goldfarb P.A. helps those injured by toxic chemicals recover damages for their injuries. If you have been injured by a company’s negligence, give us a call or talk to us online to set up a free no-obligation consultation.