Wolverine and 3M PFC Contamination of Water Supplies Class Action

This class action brings suit against Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., along with its chemical supplier, the 3M Company, and its waste disposal agent, Waste Management, Inc., for contamination of the air, ground, and water. Wolverine operated a tannery in Kent County, Michigan, and the complaint alleges its operations produced sludge and debris contaminated with chemicals that leaked into groundwater and poisoned lakes, rivers, beaches, and drinking water supplies. 

The classes for this action include a Medical Monitoring Class of individuals who drank water contaminated by the defendants’ PFCs and other toxic chemicals; and a Property Damage Class of individuals who own real property in or near areas contaminated by the defendants’ PFCs and other toxic chemicals.

Among the toxic chemicals cited in the complaint are per- and poly-fluforocarbons (PFCs), including per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFCs are believed to cause a variety of diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and, indirectly, cardiovascular and circulatory problems such as pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Wolverine’s tannery used 3M’s Scothgard product from the late 1950s until 2002, the complaint says. Scotchgard contained PFCs. The tannery operated until 2009.

The complaint claims that both Wolverine and 3M knew that Scotchgard contained PFCs and knew they were harmful, but claimed they were not. According to the complaint, Wolverine insisted that its facility wastes were safe, and it dumped them at a number of sites. 

The complaint claims that 3M has known since 1970 that PFCs were too toxic to be released into the environment. Yet even in December 2017, the complaint claims, 3M said that “PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood” and that even “production workers who were exposed to these chemicals at levels significantly higher than those in the general population … show no adverse health effects.” The complaint claims that these statements are not true.

According to the complaint, “a study in 3M’s files” shows that a lethal dose of PFC for fish is just 1 part per million, leaving the fish incapable of swimming properly and killing them within weeks. Higher doses kill the fish in days, hours, or minutes. The complaint also claims that 3M did a similar study with Rhesus monkeys and PFCs, in which all of the monkeys died. 

In 1983, the complaint alleges, some 3M workers’ blood showed an increase in PFC levels. PFCs are bio-accumulative and build up in human bodies. 

The area shows high levels of PFAs in drinking water, according to the complaint. In one case, the complaint says, the level was seventy times the level deemed safe by the state and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

In addition, the complaint says, Wolverine let toxic levels of arsenic, total chromium, hexavalent chromium, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc to leach into the Rogue River.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Environmental

Most Recent Case Event

Wolverine and 3M PFC Contamination of Water Supplies Complaint

December 4, 2018

This class action brings suit against Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., along with its chemical supplier, the 3M Company, and its waste disposal agent, Waste Management, Inc., for contamination of the air, ground, and water. Wolverine operated a tannery in Kent County, Michigan, and the complaint alleges its operations produced sludge and debris contaminated with chemicals that leaked into groundwater and poisoned lakes, rivers, beaches, and drinking water supplies. 

wolverine_toxic_chemicals_compl.pdf

Case Event History

Wolverine and 3M PFC Contamination of Water Supplies Complaint

December 4, 2018

This class action brings suit against Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., along with its chemical supplier, the 3M Company, and its waste disposal agent, Waste Management, Inc., for contamination of the air, ground, and water. Wolverine operated a tannery in Kent County, Michigan, and the complaint alleges its operations produced sludge and debris contaminated with chemicals that leaked into groundwater and poisoned lakes, rivers, beaches, and drinking water supplies. 

wolverine_toxic_chemicals_compl.pdf
Tags: Contaminated Water/Groundwater, Environmental, Environmental Damage, Hazardous or Toxic Materials