Committee releases financial recovery estimates for the $13.6B drinking water PFAS settlement

Sept. 1, 2023
Any public water system that serves more than 25 people and has detected PFAS in any of its water sources is included in the proposed settlement class under PFAS settlements with 3M and DuPont.

Attorneys representing public water systems in litigation against manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) 3M and DuPont released tables with the estimated range of financial recovery public water systems might expect as part of the proposed $13.6 billion settlements.

Estimates for the 3M settlement are available here.

Estimates for the DuPont settlement are available here.

the tables detail the formula to determine how much of the settlement each public water system could receive, defined by the number of impacted water sources the system has, each source's flow rate and PFAS contamination level. These factors are the drivers of remediation cost calculation.

Scott Summy, a shareholder at the law firm Baron & Budd and member of the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee leading the litigation and settlement negotiations, said that while precise allocation figures are not yet available, the tables will nonetheless give public water systems a much clearer picture of available funding as the districts begin to address PFAS contamination to meet new federal standards.

Summy added that precise allocation figures will be available only after data from participating members of the settlement class is received and processed.

Earlier this year, the U.S. EPA announced the nation's first drinking water standards governing acceptable PFAS levels, among other dangerous contaminants, and mandated necessary regulations including filtering and testing.

"The combined settlements with 3M and DuPont represent the largest settlement of its type in history, but we know this is just a part of the larger solution," said Gary Douglas, a founding partner of the law firm Douglas & London and a fellow member of the Executive Committee who was designated lead trial counsel for the first public water provider case in the country. "This record-setting settlement is just one of several funding sources for U.S. public water systems to deal with PFAS contamination, including federal government funding."

Any public water system that serves more than 25 people and has detected PFAS in any of its water sources, as well as systems that have not yet detected PFAS but must test for contamination, are included in the proposed settlement class. The agreement with 3M is pending approval by the governing federal court, while the agreement with DuPont was provisionally approved on August 22, 2023. The settlement funds would be used for testing, decontamination and the construction of filtration systems.

"These settlements serve as a source of supplementary funding for public water systems, aiding them in the important task of purifying their drinking water sources from PFAS contamination," said Matt Holmes, CEO of the National Rural Water Association. "These allocation estimates act as a valuable resource for public water providers, offering them an approximation of the financial support they can anticipate from these settlements."

The settlement includes contributions from PFAS manufacturers 3M and Dupont. DuPont is expected to contribute $1.185 billion, while 3M is adding up to $12.5 billion, or approximately 22% of the company's total market capitalization.

The settlement was reached after a pitched five-year legal battle that involved 7.4 million pages of discovery documents and more than 160 depositions. The agreement was reached just prior to trial.

"This landmark settlement is a victory for Americans who strive to protect our water supply and ensure their families can rest at night knowing their water is being safeguarded," said Michael London, founding partner of Douglas & London and fellow co-lead counsel who was Court-appointed to help lead settlement negotiations with the defendants. "With the release of these tables, the plaintiffs and public water systems across the United States can understand what the monetary aid they receive might look like and can plan accordingly."

The settlement is part of the multi-district litigation overseen by the Honorable Richard Gergel in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.