State lawyers are lining up in court to fight PFAS, the vexing group of chemicals linked to cancer but used broadly in cookware, firefighting foam and other materials.
Litigation has increased as research and public awareness of potential impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances has grown in recent years. Now, state lawsuits against chemical manufacturers are piling up, raising the stakes for all involved.
"I think you're going to see a waterfall effect. You're going to see more states doing that," said Akerman LLP attorney Matthew Schroeder, who advises companies on PFAS-related legal risks.
"States are going to follow, cities are going to follow, attorneys general are going to follow," he added. "And it's going to, in turn, lead to significantly more class-action lawsuits."
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked some forms of PFAS — an umbrella term for a broad set of related man-made chemicals — to cancer, thyroid problems and other health issues.
Thousands of individual plaintiffs have already gone to court over the past two decades with alleged injuries. States were largely absent from the legal scene until a series of lawsuits hit the courts over the past year.
New Hampshire is the latest to join the fray, filing two lawsuits last week against major manufacturers for their products' impacts on natural resources. New Jersey filed its own case three weeks ago, raising environmental and consumer fraud claims. Others taking legal action include Ohio, New York and New Mexico. PFAS-related cases in North Carolina and Vermont recently settled.