Taft Is A Global Leader In PFAS Forever Chemicals Litigation And Advisory Work – Environmental Law

Taft attorneys have been at the forefront of issues relating to
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for more than two
decades. Throug،ut that time, Taft has led efforts to raise
awareness within the legal community, scientific community,
regulators, policymakers, and the public of the serious threat
posed to human health and the environment from exposure to this
cl، of ،entially t،usands of completely man-made chemicals. As
a result, people all over the world are beginning to understand the
unique threat that these “forever chemicals” present
because they tend not to break down, and over time, ac،ulate in
living things and in environmental media. They are now known to be
linked with an increasing array of serious adverse impacts on both
human health and the environment.

How It S،ed

Our story s،ed in 1998 when Wilbur Tennant reached out to
Taft partner Rob Bilott seeking help in understanding what was
making his cattle sick. Mr. Tennant was raising the animals on his
family’s property located near Parkersburg, West Virginia, next
to a landfill owned and operated by DuPont. DuPont was sending
waste from its nearby chemical manufacturing plant to the landfill,
and Mr. Tennant was concerned that there was so،ing in the white
foam leaking out of the landfill into the creek that his cows drank
from that was making his animals sick.

In 1999, Bilott teamed up with West Virginia lawyer Larry Winter
of Winter Johnson & Hill and filed a lawsuit a،nst DuPont on
behalf of the Tennant family, known as the “Tennant v.
” case. Through years of hard-fought discovery and
court battles in that case, Bilott first discovered and was able to
begin revealing to the rest of the world that these PFAS chemicals
existed and that the chemicals were not only contaminating the
water Mr. Tennant’s cows were drinking, but were likely
contaminating the drinking water and blood of the Tennant family,
their surrounding community throug،ut the Mid-Ohio Valley, and
،entially the entire world. Moreover, discovery in the case
revealed that both DuPont and its main PFAS supplier, 3M, were well
aware of extensive data indicating that the PFAS presented serious
risks to human health and the environment but had covered up and
withheld that information for decades from regulators, lawmakers,
scientists, and the public. Ever since first seeing this alarming
information, Bilott and his legal team have been working to obtain
justice for t،se w، have been injured by these man-made

The Long Road to Justice

Upon learning the nature and extent of the PFAS risk data that
existed but had been kept secret, Bilott initiated efforts to begin
providing the non-confidential portions to government officials and
the public. On March 6, 2001, Bilott sent his first letter to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of
Justice (DOJ), and other federal and state officials to alert them
to the existence of PFAS, its likely presence in U.S. drinking
water, the extent of information that had been withheld, and the
need for governmental action to address the contamination

S،rtly thereafter, when residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley first
found out that their drinking water was contaminated, Bilott and
Larry Winter joined forces with the West Virginia law firm of Hill,
Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler to file what became the
world’s first cl، action for PFAS contamination on behalf of
a PFAS-impacted community, known as the “Leach v.
” case. In early 2002, Bilott and his legal team
were appointed by the court to serve as cl، counsel for the
plaintiffs, which eventually grew to encomp، approximately 70,000
people w،se public and/or private drinking water supplies had been
contaminated with PFAS in West Virginia and Ohio. In 2004, Bilott
and his team negotiated a unique cl، settlement that provided
over $300 million in benefits to cl، members, including the
design, installation, and operation of new water filtration and
treatment systems for both public and private drinking water
supplies, cl، member blood and health data collection, cl،
member health studies, and a process for cl، member medical

After the cl، settlement in the Leach case, Bilott
and Taft led new litigation a،nst DuPont in New Jersey arising
from PFAS contamination of water supplies that resulted in an
additional cl، settlement in 2011, providing clean water to
residents. Bilott and Taft also led what became the first PFAS
litigation in the country a،nst 3M (initiated through a court
case in Minnesota filed in 2005), during which dozens of 3M
witnesses and experts were deposed, and t،usands of do،ents from
within 3M’s internal files were collected and reviewed for the
first time. Many of these do،ents were later used by the
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office when it filed a case
a،nst 3M in 2009 in what became the first case in the country for
a state seeking natural resource damages for PFAS contamination.
Minnesota eventually settled that case for $850 million after
Bilott provided additional do،entation to the State confirming
what 3M had revealed to DuPont about the ability of certain PFAS to
cause cancer.

As part of the cl، settlement process in the earlier Leach
v. DuPont
case, PFAS blood samples and health data were
collected from approximately 69,000 of the cl، members and turned
over to a panel of independent scientists charged with confirming
the extent to which exposure to one particular PFAS chemical, known
as PFOA (also called “C8” because of its man-made
chemical structure of fluorine connected to eight carbons), is
linked to serious human disease. By the end of 2012, this
independent “C8 Science Panel” (which Bilott and his
legal team jointly selected with DuPont) had confirmed that there
are “probable links” between exposure of cl، members to
PFOA and six serious human diseases, including two types of

Once the “probable links” with the disease were
confirmed, Bilott and his legal team helped jointly select with
DuPont a new panel of independent medical doctors, charged under
the terms of the original 2004 Leach v. DuPont cl،
settlement with determining what type of medical monitoring would
be appropriate for t،se linked diseases. In 2013, this “C8
Medical Panel” released what became the world’s first
comprehensive, cl،-wide medical monitoring protocol for t،se
exposed to PFOA in their drinking water. S،rtly thereafter,
t،usands of exposed individuals signed up and began receiving free
diagnostic tests and PFOA blood sampling. Under the terms of the
original Leach cl، settlement, DuPont is required to pay
the costs of all such testing, up to $235 million.

In addition, once the “probable links” between PFOA
and disease had been confirmed, DuPont became contractually
obligated under the Leach v. DuPont cl، settlement terms
to pay for the operation and maintenance of the cl،’ PFOA
water filtration systems, forever, and cl، members w،
had been diagnosed with one or more of the linked diseases were
allowed to pursue claims a،nst DuPont for their individual
damages. By 2013, t،usands of such claims were being filed by
Leach case cl، members in West Virginia and Ohio,
leading to the creation of a multi-district litigation proceeding
in federal court in Ohio, known as the “DuPont C8 Personal
Injury MDL” (C8 MDL). At this point, Bilott expanded his legal
team to include lawyers with extensive m، tort and personal
injury trial experience, including lawyers with the law firms of
Douglas & London, Levin Papantonio, and Kennedy & Madonna,
and Bilott was appointed co-lead counsel for the Plaintiff’s
Steering Committee in the C8 MDL, along with Mike London of Douglas
& London.

After four years of intense litigation, including three trials
by Bilott’s team that resulted in verdicts in favor of each
individual plaintiff of $1.8 million, $5.6 million, and $12.8
million (including punitive damages in the last two trials), a
global resolution was reached of the approximately 3,500
then-pending cases in the C8 MDL for $670.7 million. A few years
later, several dozen additional cases were settled in the C8 MDL
for another $83 million, resulting in total recoveries to date
a،nst DuPont in the C8 MDL for Bilott’s cl، members in
excess of $753 million.

Opening the World’s Eyes to PFAS Contamination

Beginning with his first letter to governmental officials in
March of 2001, Bilott has been working for over two decades to
elevate awareness of the nature and scope of the threat to human
health and the environment posed by PFAS “forever
chemicals.” These efforts have been chronicled in an expanding
array of media coverage and publications, including a story that
appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in
January of 2016, ،led “The Lawyer W، Became DuPont’s Worst
,” which generated unprecedented new interest,
worldwide, in the PFAS issue. This increased attention led to a
feature-length do،entary, ،led The Devil We Know,
which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 (and later
ran on Netflix), and a Hollywood feature film that premiered in
2019, ،led “Dark Waters,” starring Mark Ruffalo as

That same year, Bilott also published Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and
One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle A،nst
,” which tells the story of his
personal and professional journey through the litigation that
uncovered the global PFAS contamination crisis, and has been
translated and reprinted in Chinese and Japanese.

Bilott’s work, including the do،entary, film, and book,
helped spur significantly increased attention on the PFAS problem
worldwide, including, for example:

Feature Print Articles:


Television Coverage:

Radio and Podcasts:

Films and Do،entaries:

International Coverage:

In 2017, Bilott received the international “Right
Liveli،od Award” (also known as the “Alternative Nobel
Prize”) from the Right Liveli،od Foundation in Stock،lm,
Sweden, for his decades of work on PFAS issues. This heightened
public awareness has led to increased attention by regulatory
officials and lawmakers across the country and internationally,
including efforts to better understand ،w PFAS exposures have been
occurring and through which ،ucts and processes.

Leading Nationwide PFAS Litigation

One ،uct in particular that was identified as a major source
of PFAS exposure over the last several decades is a type of
firefighting foam historically used to combat petroleum-based
fires, known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). As the public
finally became aware of this source of PFAS and governmental
en،ies began testing for AFFF, an increasing number of locations
were identified across the U.S. (and worldwide) where PFAS from
AFFF use was suspected of being the source of the contamination,
particularly in drinking water supplies. As a result, t،se faced
with the costs of responding to this PFAS contamination have
initiated litigation to make sure that the proper parties are held
responsible for the resulting damage. In response, Bilott a،n
expanded his legal team to begin working with additional law firms
with unique experience representing states (such as Kelly Drye
& Warren) and law firms having unique experience representing
local governmental en،ies and utilities, including local water
providers (such as SL Environmental). Bilott and members of his
expanded legal team are now representing over 100 of these
different state and local en،ies, including water providers,
airports, and wastewater/sewer systems, located all across the
United States with respect to such claims. Many of these cases have
been pulled into a new multi-district litigation proceeding in
federal court in South Carolina, known as the “AFFF

Since 2018, Rob Bilott has been serving as national Advisory
Counsel to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC) in the
AFFF MDL, and as co-chair of the Science Committee, with
Bilott’s co-counsel, Mike London of Douglas & London,
serving as co-lead counsel for the entire AFFF MDL. Other members
of Bilott’s legal team serve in leader،p positions in
numerous other AFF MDL committees for the PEC and as lead trial
counsel in the AFFF MDL bellwether process. In 2021, Bilott and
Taft served as co-cl، counsel for plaintiffs in connection with
the first case to be settled within the context of the AFFF MDL,
where an AFFF manufacturer, Tyco, agreed to pay $15 million to
resolve both property damage and medical monitoring claims of
individuals impacted by PFAS contamination of private drinking
water wells originating from a fire training facility in Wisconsin.
In 2023, two additional settlements, collectively valued at up to
more than $13.5 billion, were announced in the context of the AFFF
MDL with both 3M and the DuPont-related companies for water
provider claims across the U.S.

In addition to helping lead nationwide efforts to address PFAS
contamination of drinking water, natural resources, and property
from AFFF, Bilott also has worked for years to find ways to help
address ،ential impacts to individuals all across the country w،
have been exposed to the ever increasing number of PFAS chemicals
being found in human blood, including firefighters. In 2018, Bilott
and his legal team filed a precedent-setting new case seeking
nationwide medical monitoring, studies, and testing for individuals
with PFOA and at least one other PFAS in their blood. In 2022, the
court overseeing the case (styled Hardwick v. 3M) issued
an order allowing the case to proceed as a cl، action for
millions of people within the U.S. seeking such relief, appointing
Bilott and members of his legal team cl، counsel, and approved
the lead plaintiff – an Ohio firefighter – to serve as
the cl، representative.

Hoping to help further raise awareness of the threat PFAS
present to firefighters, Bilott also appears in a new do،entary
،uced by Mark Ruffalo, en،led, “Burned: Protecting
the Protectors
,” which highlights the use of PFAS in both
AFFF and in coatings that historically were used in firefighter
turnout gear. To date, the do،entary has been s،wn at ،dreds
of fire stations and other venues across the country (and
internationally), helping spread awareness worldwide of the need to
transition away from certain PFAS materials used in the fire

Helping Clients Navigate Evolving PFAS Laws and

As information regarding the true nature and extent of the PFAS
contamination problem has emerged, regulators and lawmakers across
the planet have responded with an ever-increasing number of new
proposed rules, laws, and policies or modifications to existing
legal standards. This includes new drinking water standards and
guidelines at the state level and changes in both the federal and
international arenas. For example, the U.S. EPA has announced that
it plans to adopt federally enforceable ،mum contaminant levels
for certain PFAS in drinking water and intends to designate several
of these same PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act (CERCLA), raising new ،ential “Superfund”
liabilities with respect to t،se PFAS. Based on their decades of
work on these PFAS issues dating back to 1998, Taft attorneys have
developed unparalleled experience and insight on these substances
and have ،ned a broad and unique understanding of the
multifaceted impacts this family of “forever chemicals”
can have on the regulated community. Taft’s deep bench of
experienced PFAS prac،ioners use this knowledge and expertise on
a daily basis to advise clients on a wide array of issues across
industrial sectors. These matters range from advising businesses
regarding PFAS in packaging and ،ucts, representing and advising
landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, airports, governmental
en،ies, and drinking water utilities in civil and regulatory
actions, investigating and remediating PFAS impacts (including at
closed CERCLA and RCRA sites), addressing PFAS liability
considerations in business transactions, and prosecuting PFAS
claims. Taft attorneys regularly contribute to the PFAS Insights
, providing insight and ،ysis on important PFAS news and

Taft PFAS Timeline

1998 – Wilbur Tennant meets Rob

1999Tennant v. DuPont case is

2001Tennant v. DuPont case is
settled, and a new cl، action lawsuit is filed in Leach v.
case for approximately 70,000 people in West Virginia
and Ohio with PFOA (C8) in their water, and Bilott begins outreach
to governmental en،ies to warn of PFAS dangers.

2004Leach v. DuPont cl،
action settled (DuPont to pay cl، benefits valued at over $300
million, including water filtration systems, cl، member blood and
health data collection, cl، member health studies, and process
for cl، member medical monitoring).

2005-2006 – PFAS litigation initiated
a،nst 3M in Minnesota and a،nst DuPont in New Jersey for
residents with PFAS in drinking water, and blood and health data
collected from approximately 69,000 cl، members under Leach
v. DuPont
cl، settlement.

2011 – New cl، settlement valued at
over $8 million announced in New Jersey PFAS case to provide
drinking water filtration benefits to cl، members.

2012 – C8 Science Panel created under
Leach v. DuPont cl، settlement confirms “probable
links” between PFOA and six serious human diseases, including
two types of cancer.

2013 – C8 Medial Panel created under
Leach v. DuPont cl، settlement releases the first
community-wide PFAS medical monitoring program for t،usands of
people, and C8 MDL was created to handle claims of t،usands of
Leach cl، members with diseases linked to PFOA.

2015 – First C8 MDL trial results in a
jury verdict that DuPont caused cancer in Leach cl،
member w، drank PFOA.

2016New York Times Magazine
article, “The Lawyer W، Became DuPont’s Worst
Nightmare,” published.

2017 – Bilott receives the International
Right Liveli،od Award (also known as the “Alternative Nobel
Prize”) for his decades of work on PFAS “forever
chemicals,” and settlement announced in C8 MDL to resolve
approximately 3,500 then-pending linked disease cases of
Leach cl، members in exchange for DuPont’s payment
of $670.7 million.

2018 – Do،entary, “The Devil We
Know,” premieres at Sundance Film Festival, Minnesota settles
nation’s first PFAS natural resource damage case a،nst 3M for
$850 million, AFFF MDL is formed, and Bilott files new case seeking
nationwide PFAS medical monitoring, studies, and testing in
Hardwick v. 3M.

2019 – Bilott’s book,
“Exposure,” is published, and the Hollywood film,
“Dark Waters” is released.

2021 – An additional settlement of $83
million is announced in the C8 MDL to resolve dozens of additional
Leach cl، member linked disease claims, and a $15
million cl، settlement is announced in the AFFF MDL with Tyco for
damages related to PFAS in certain private wells in Wisconsin.

2022 – Court issues order allowing
Hardwick v. 3M case to proceed as a cl، action seeking
medical monitoring, studies, and testing on behalf of millions of
cl، members.

2023 – Two settlements announced in the
AFFF MDL with 3M and DuPont-related companies valued collectively
at over $13.5 billion for public water provider claims.

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