3M granted 3-week delay in PFAS trial amid settlement talks – Twin Cities
The judge overseeing 4,000 municipal and state lawsuits involving 3M Co. “forever chemicals” agreed to delay the first trial for three weeks so the company can work out a settlement over pollution claims by water providers.
U.S. District Judge Mark Gergel said Maplewood-based 3M and the lawyers it suing over the chemicals were in “serious settlement discussions to reach a global resolution” of claims and believe “a final binding agreement is achievable in the near future.” Their time is better spent finalizing that accord and obtaining approvals for it than going to trial in federal court in Charleston, S.C., where jury selection was set to begin Monday, Gergel wrote in an order.
Bloomberg News reported on Friday that 3M had struck a tentative settlement of at least $10 billion to cover claims related to municipal providers of drinking water to consumers, according to people familiar with the matter. The accord, which requires approval by 3M’s board, wouldn’t cover an array of other claims, the people said. The claims involve water pollution tied to 3M’s per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
Gergel said the parties should give him weekly updates, with a final report no later than 21 days from Monday.
“If a binding agreement regarding the water district cases is not accomplished within this 21 day period, the court will promptly reschedule this case for trial with no further continuances to be granted,” Gergel wrote.
Lawyers suing 3M claim that the chemicals can cause cancer and other health problems, which the company denies.
PFAS have been used for decades in products ranging from nonstick pans to cosmetics, but they don’t break down naturally and can settle in soil, water or human bodies.
Stuart, Fla., the plaintiff in the first trial, is suing 3M over a PFAS-containing foam used by firefighting crews across the U.S. to suppress fuel fires. The city claims 3M failed to warn of PFAS’s risks and designed defective products.
Lawyers for Stuart are seeking $105 million to cover the cost of removing PFAS and as much as $500 million in punitive damages, court filings show.
3M shares closed own 4.4% Monday at $92.98.