Plaintiffs Can Now File AFFF Lawsuits Over Thyroid and Liver Cancer

Firefighting foam, or AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam), has been in the news lately. It helps extinguish dangerous flammable liquid fires. But people working in the local and military fire departments have been badly affected by it. Since it has PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), firefighters and others exposed to it developed various ailments.

PFAS is also called ‘forever chemicals” because it doesn’t get broken down and persists in both the human body and nature. As a result, it causes harm to both. Over the years, firefighters and others affected by the foam have filed AFFF lawsuits for cancer and other injuries.

Recently, the court came up with a process that enables plaintiffs suffering from thyroid and liver cancer to also file a lawsuit. Here, we will discuss this and how you can seek legal recourse and get fair compensation for your losses.

The Bellwether Trial Process for AFFF Lawsuits

In March 2024, shared that Judge Gergel, last year set a bellwether process. According to this AFFF lawsuit update, a small group of complaints were supposed to undergo pretrial motions and case-specific discovery. It was done to understand how the juries might respond to particular testimony and evidence repeated in the litigation.

The initial AFFF lawsuit for this process was restricted to claims that included testicular, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid disease. Here, the parties selected a team of 28 AFFF lawsuits representing these injuries. Later on, the list was supposed to be shortlisted to a few cases eligible for initial injury trials.

However, in December 2023, the court urged the parties to come up with a plan. It should address any other personal injury cases not included in the initial list. The plan can also include an agenda for carrying out pretrial discovery in the added cases.

In March 2024, the plaintiffs submitted a response. They mentioned that the second bellwether team must comprise thyroid and liver cancer claims because of AFFF exposure. A case management form was issued on the same day by the court. The form outlines plans for setting up such claims for trial.

Based on this order, plaintiffs must share all essential, peer-assessed studies or articles. These documents must establish the link between AFFF exposure and thyroid and liver cancer injuries. The order asked them to present it by April of this year. 

Once done, the defendants had to wait until May to share studies or articles disputing the claims. However, both parties had the chance to present their documents to the court by May.

Science Day for Firefighter Foam Lawsuits

The new order asked the parties to plan and carry out a ‘Science Day’ presentation. Here, the court had to be updated on scientific information and theories on AFFF exposure and its injuries.

It comprised non-adversarial presentations by parties and witnesses. Through this process, the court gets acquainted with concepts and problems that can show up during proceedings. The presentations aren’t part of formal records or are cross-examined. The data shared might help the Court in future motions and rulings about AFFF lawsuits. It also includes decisions on whether juries should get to hear expert witness testimony or not.

There is no specific date fixed for Science Day. However, Judge Gergel said that parties will get 2 months (60 days) to submit joint or competing orders for early test trials. The outcome of the early bellwether trials wouldn’t affect other claims. However, one can expect that the settlement payout might impact future settlement negotiations to resolve the litigation.

Navigating the Legal Path

Therefore, if you have developed liver or thyroid cancer because of AFFF exposure, you can seek legal recourse. TorHoerman Law states it is necessary to consult a lawyer for this. They will study your case over a free consultation and determine your eligibility for a lawsuit. After that, they will guide you through the legal procedures and help you cater to the procedures correctly.

You should share every piece of evidence with a lawyer and allow them to examine it. They will use the relevant ones to build a strong case and present your suffering in court. That way, they can ensure you get fair compensation and cover the losses you’ve endured. Finally, they will also let you know that the settlement payout will vary based on your degree of suffering.

In summary, AFFF exposure has made firefighters and others suffer from various types of cancer. Based on the new order, plaintiffs can now file a legal complaint for liver and thyroid cancer as well. Hence, it is necessary to keep all medical documents, healthcare data, and employment records in place. It will help you work with a lawyer who will present your cases and obtain compensation.

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