Public water utilities and 3M have until August 28 to respond to the bipartisan coalition of 22 state attorneys general (AGs) that opposes their proposed $12.5 billion class action settlement over alleged per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination and is seeking to intervene in their litigation.
The matter, which is pending before Judge Richard M. Gergel in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, is part of the multidistrict PFAS litigation involving the public water suppliers’ lawsuits against PFAS manufacturers such as 3M, DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva over their use of PFAS — commonly referred to as toxic “forever chemicals” — in a wide range of consumer products and firefighting foams. The AGs have grudgingly endorsed the parties’ request for preliminary approval of a $1.185 billion class action settlement between the water providers and DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva — although the AGs for California, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, in an amici letter earlier this month, said that deal should not serve as a benchmark for any future settlements — but the 22-AG coalition led by California AG Rob Bonta remains opposed to the proposed 3M deal.
In a motion to intervene in the litigation and an omnibus opposition filed on July 26, the 22 state AGs argue that Judge Gergel should reject the 3M settlement based on what they say is its overbroad indemnity clause, among other things.
Judge Gergel originally ordered responses to the AGs’ motion to intervene filed on August 2, but has since allowed joint requests by the plaintiffs and 3M to extend that deadline, which most recently was scheduled to expire on August 16. According to the parties’ latest joint motion, which was filed and allowed on August 16, “Plaintiffs and 3M have engaged in multiple discussions and exchanged several proposals with counsel for the Sovereigns as they continue to attempt to address the concerns the Sovereigns have raised in the Opposition Filings. Despite these substantial good faith efforts, the parties have not resolved all of the issues raised by the Sovereigns.”
Joining Bonta in opposing the proposed 3M settlement are the AGs for Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Why It Matters
The AGs’ action demonstrates the emphasis that many state AGs place upon maximizing their authority to hold PFAS manufacturers financially liable for their alleged roles toward environmental contamination linked to PFAS.
Troutman Pepper State Attorneys General Team
|Ashley Taylor – Co-leader and Firm Vice Chair
Ashley is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. He focuses primarily on federal and state government regulatory and enforcement matters involving state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Drawing upon his experience as a deputy attorney general, Ashley has developed an extensive consumer practice with regard to the consumer financial services industry.
|Clay Friedman – Co-leader
Clay is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. Informed by nearly a decade in a state attorneys general office, and more than 25 years in private practice, Clay spends much of his time representing clients in singular or multistate regulatory actions. Clay has repeatedly led teams before all 50 state attorneys general and also handles matters with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other local, state and federal agencies.
Judy is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy and Enforcement (RISE) practice, based in the Richmond office. She brings experience serving as chair and commissioner of the Virginia State Corporate Commission (VSCC) from 2006 through 2022, which includes regulating the utilities, insurance, banking, and securities industries. She also served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2005-2006.
Stephen represents clients interacting with, and being investigated by, state attorneys general and other enforcement bodies, including the CFPB and FTC, as well as clients involved with litigation, particularly in heavily regulated industries.
A former deputy attorney general of New York, Avi applies his experience in bet-the-company matters, representing clients in criminal and civil investigations and enforcement actions before state and federal regulators, prosecutors and enforcement agencies.
Michael handles high-profile state attorneys general, FTC, and CFPB investigations by advising clients through these complex government inquiries. He assists clients through the entire life cycle of investigations, from regulatory enforcement through formal litigation.
As a former government official at the state and federal level, Ketan leverages extensive experience in the public and private sectors to skillfully represent client interests.
Tim is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, with a primary focus on financial services litigation.
Chris represents clients in regulatory, civil and criminal investigations and litigation. In his practice, Chris regularly employs his prior regulatory experience to benefit clients who are interacting with and being investigated by state attorneys general.
Natalia is an associate in the firm’s business litigation practice. She recently received her J.D from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
Namrata is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, based in the Washington, D.C. office. Her work includes advising clients in regulatory investigations and compliance matters, in addition to representing clients in civil litigation matters.
Michael is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy, and Enforcement Practice Group. Based out of the firm’s Boston office, Mike has deep experience in litigation, investigations, and other regulatory matters involving state-level regulators and state attorneys general.
Susan is an associate in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Practice Group, and focuses her practice on consumer financial services matters. She has defended several of the nation’s largest and most influential financial institutions in individual and class action litigation involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and other consumer privacy statutes. Susan also represents banks, fintechs, and financial services companies in connection with regulatory examinations and investigations brought by the CFPB, state attorneys general, and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
John represents clients in a wide variety of general and complex litigation matters, shareholder disputes, products liability, and privacy claims.
Whitney is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group. She represents clients facing state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, as well as related civil litigation.
Trey is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement practice. His experience includes serving as a summer associate at the firm in 2021.
An experienced litigator, Daniel advises and represents regional, national and international companies, financial institutions and insurers in all facets of business, complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation. He is committed to working with his clients to find creative solutions to meet their needs.
Stephanie is Troutman Pepper’s senior government relations manager in the state attorneys general department.