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A Victim’s Guide to Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) Lawsuits

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Peter J. Gregory
Apr 17, 2024
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Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant used primarily in military and civil firefighting operations, has been at the center of numerous lawsuits due to its links to several health issues, particularly cancer. This substance, developed in the 1960s, is effective at extinguishing liquid fires, especially those involving jet fuel and gasoline. However, the foam contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are now known to be harmful to human health.

As a victim of exposure to AFFF, it is crucial to understand the ongoing litigation, particularly the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) consolidated under Judge Richard M. Gergel in Charleston, South Carolina. This article will explore the critical aspects of AFFF lawsuits, offering insights and guidance on navigating these complex legal waters.

Understanding AFFF and Its Dangers

AFFF works by forming a barrier that cools the fire and coats the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen. While effective, the PFAS in AFFF—often termed "forever chemicals"—do not degrade in the environment or the human body, leading to significant health risks. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to cancer, including kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. Studies have also linked PFAS exposure to many other serious health conditions such as thyroid disease, liver damage, immune system deficiencies, developmental issues, and more.

The Rise of AFFF Litigation

The litigation surrounding AFFF began to pick up as studies about PFAS health impacts became more widely recognized. Firefighters, military personnel, and residents near facilities where AFFF was regularly used are the most affected groups, experiencing higher rates of associated illnesses. The legal claims typically argue that the manufacturers of AFFF knew or should have known about the risks associated with PFAS exposure but failed to warn users or adequately test the product for safety.

Multi-District Litigation (MDL) Overview

To efficiently handle the burgeoning number of AFFF lawsuits, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these cases into an MDL. This legal procedure helps manage large numbers of lawsuits that share common factual questions, centralizing pretrial proceedings to streamline discovery, avoid conflicting rulings, and conserve resources. The AFFF MDL in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina represents a critical junction for these cases.

Key Aspects of the AFFF MDL

  • Consolidation Benefits: Consolidation under the MDL format allows for more systematic discovery and a cohesive approach to handling numerous cases. It also strengthens the bargaining position of plaintiffs during any settlement discussions.
  • Scope and Scale: The MDL includes various types of claims, including personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage due to contamination. The geographic scope is nationwide, affecting plaintiffs from multiple states.
  • Legal Strategies and Challenges: Plaintiffs' lawyers are focusing on proving the link between PFAS exposure and health conditions, while defense teams are likely to challenge causation and argue that other factors could contribute to the plaintiffs' conditions.

Steps for Victims

If you believe you have been affected by exposure to AFFF, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Medical Evaluation: Document any health issues and consult healthcare providers to establish a medical link to PFAS exposure.
  2. Legal Consultation: Speak with a personal injury lawyer experienced in environmental litigation and MDLs. A qualified attorney can offer guidance specific to the AFFF MDL and help determine your eligibility for compensation.
  3. Documentation: Gather all relevant documents, including medical records, employment history, and any proof of exposure to AFFF.
  4. Joining the MDL: Your lawyer can file a claim on your behalf to join the MDL, integrating your case with those of other plaintiffs who have similar allegations.

Moving Forward: The Path to Justice

The AFFF MDL under Judge Gergel is a pivotal development in the fight for accountability and compensation for victims of PFAS exposure. This consolidation not only facilitates more streamlined legal proceedings but also raises public awareness about the dangers of PFAS and the need for stricter regulations on hazardous substances.


Victims of AFFF exposure face significant challenges, from health battles to legal complexities. Understanding the intricacies of the AFFF MDL and participating in these legal proceedings can be daunting. However, armed with the right information and legal support, affected individuals can pursue the justice and compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after exposure to Aqueous Film Forming Foam, it is imperative to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can navigate the legal complexities and help you secure the compensation you deserve. Remember, time is of the essence, so don't delay in seeking legal advice to protect your rights and ensure a smoother path towards recovery.

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About the author: Peter J. Gregory is a partner with MCCM Personal Injury Lawyers in Rochester, NY.  He is a trial lawyer with extensive experience resolving disputes in state and federal trial courts. As a personal injury lawyer, Gregory focuses on advising clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents caused by the carelessness or recklessness of others. Please feel free to contact him directly at or (585) 512-3506.

This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

About MCCM

McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high-quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979.  With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.

We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England.  They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts.  For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.