November 11, 2019
Motley Rice appointed co-lead counsel for 3M investors alleging failure to disclose the extent of PFAS liability
U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi appointed Motley Rice as co-lead counsel for securities fraud litigation filed by investors who allege 3M Co., and its executives failed to inform them of the scope of potential liability for its products containing toxic PFAS chemicals. 3M manufactures and markets various products worldwide in a variety of areas, including safety and industrial, transportation, electronics, health care and consumer products.
Man-made per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or perflourinated chemicals, were popularized in the 1950s as a means of providing grease, water and oil resistant properties to consumer products. Common uses include providing a non-stick coating on cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, firefighting foams, and even some cosmetics. Studies have shown and the EPA has found, however, that these chemicals are highly toxic and hazardous to the environment and human health. PFAS chemicals often travel long distances by moving through soil, contaminating groundwater, and traveling through the air, increasing the likelihood of exposure to communities surrounding locations where products containing PFAS chemicals are manufactured. These chemicals are persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they continue to accumulate over time and are resistant to breaking down as contamination continues to occur.
According to the CDC, negative health effects associated with exposure include:
- Growth, learning, and behavioral effects in infants and older children
- Reduced chances of pregnancy
- Interference with the body’s natural hormones
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Effects to the immune system
- Increased risk of cancer
Internal documents show that 3M knew for decades that PFAS chemicals posed a danger to the public, but the company continued to use them without warning the public. Shareholders allege that 3M and its executives did not adequately inform investors of the risks and potential liability the company faced, even as state and federal investigations and lawsuits expanded to address growing concerns between February 2017 and May 2019. The company paid $850 million in February 2018 to settle state claims in Minnesota. The settlement was the third largest for a natural resource damage claim in U.S. history. New Jersey and New Hampshire have also sued the company for PFAS contamination in their water systems.
Motley Rice attorneys Gregg Levin and Chris Moriarty are co-lead counsel on the case, along with California-based law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. The case, In Re 3M Co. Securities Litigation, is filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.