$54 million PFAS settlement with 3M Company, Wolverine Worldwide receives final approval
U.S. District Judge Hala Jarbou granted final approval on March 29, 2023 to a $54 million settlement, providing significant compensation for residents of Kent County, Mich., whose properties were impacted by toxic PFAS contamination.
The settlement with manufacturers 3M Company and Wolverine Worldwide establishes a fund that will disburse payments to eligible members of the Settlement Class in the North Kent Study Area. The fund includes relief for property damages including loss of use, diminution of value, inconvenience and emotional distress related to the contamination of their water supply. Motley Rice environmental attorney Esther Berezofsky is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and led negotiations for the agreement.
“We’re very pleased that through this settlement, 3M Company and Wolverine Worldwide have agreed to compensate the residents in the Kent County communities whose properties have sustained damages as a result of environmental harm cause by PFAS contamination,” said attorney Esther Berezofsky. “PFAS is a serious threat to the environment and human health and while there is more to be done to address the presence of forever chemicals in Michigan, this settlement provides meaningful compensation to impacted residents, now that it has been approved by the Court.”
PFAS, referred to as “forever chemicals,” are highly toxic substances and are persistent in humans, livestock, aquatic life, and the environment. PFAS were first developed in the 1950s and used to provide the non-stick coating on cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, firefighting foams, and other products. U.S. and European environmental regulatory agencies, as well as human health and safety organizations have established that these chemicals are highly toxic and hazardous to the environment and human health.
High levels of PFAS chemicals, including in residential wells, have been an issue for the people of Kent County for years. The contamination has caused residents to lose value on their property and affected their quality of life due to an elevated risk of life-altering health effects. Property owners have been litigating against 3M and Wolverine for more than five years alleging both companies were negligent and created a nuisance at the public’s detriment by illegally dumping toxic chemical waste. Settlement terms stipulate that the largest payments will be allocated to property owners whose residential drinking water wells tested positive for PFAS in excess of Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL’s) as regulated by the State of Michigan.