3M OKs $10 Billion+ Settlement in ‘Forever Chemicals’ Case

Kentucky attorney Rob Bilott is a warrior in the battle against PFAS

Super Lawyers online-exclusive

By Beth Taylor on June 30, 2023


The 3M company has agreed to a settlement of up to $12.5 billion in a lawsuit over “forever chemicals” that have been found in public water systems across the country. The suit claims that PFAS chemicals from a type of firefighting foam contaminated the drinking water supplies.

“These are completely man-made chemicals that have been proven to be persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic, and in some cases even carcinogenic,” says Rob Bilott, a class action attorney at Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Covington, Kentucky. “[They] are being found throughout our environment—in our drinking water, soils, air, plants, wildlife—and in all of us.”

Fighting forever chemicals

PFAS have been found in products ranging from Teflon to carpet to mascara. Bilott, who served as court-appointed plaintiff’s advisory counsel in the 3M case, has been fighting forever chemicals for a quarter-century. In 2001, he sent a lengthy brief to the EPA, which didn’t even regulate the chemicals at that time, and that led to a $16.5 million settlement with DuPont.

Then Bilott filed a class action on behalf of 70,000 residents who lived near DuPont’s plant and had been drinking water tainted with PFOA for decades. That resulted in a settlement with DuPont valued at more than $300 million and also established a science panel, which embarked on a study that confirmed a “probable link” to cancers and other disease. Bilott and his team then reached additional settlements with DuPont exceeding $753 million in 2017 and 2021. 

Case against 3M

The 3M case began in Minnesota in 2005 and ended up involving several hundred communities. The first case, out of Stuart, Florida, was set for trial in June when the settlement was announced.

“This settlement with 3M is a significant step forward in what has been many years of work to make sure that those responsible for the contamination of our nation’s drinking water supply with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ pay for the damage,” Bilott says.

Other attorneys with key roles in the MDL include Gary Douglas and Michael London, both with Douglas & London in New York; Scott Summy with Baron & Budd in Dallas; and Wesley Bowden and Ned McWilliams, both with Levin, Papantonio, Rafferty, Proctor, Buchanan, O’Brien, Barr & Mougey in Pensacola, Florida.

The results

3M, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, has said it will stop all production of PFAS by the end of 2025.

Bilott’s efforts over the years have led to the making of two documentaries (The Devil We Know and Burned), a film (Dark Waters) and a book by Bilott (Exposure).

“It has taken several decades, beginning with our first lawsuit against DuPont filed in 1999 and continuing through the litigation still pending today, but we have successfully been able to help raise awareness within the scientific community, regulators, lawmakers and the public, worldwide, of the threat to human health and the environment,” Bilott says.

“All of which is leading to tremendous change, including new laws, new regulations, and settlements that make sure the victims of the contamination are not the ones paying for this environmental and public health disaster.”  

Bilott was featured in the 2021 Ohio/Kentucky Super Lawyers magazine.

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Robert Bilott

Robert Bilott

Top rated Class Action & Mass Torts lawyer Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP Covington, KY

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