Navy Engineer Diagnosed With Kidney Cancer From Fire Foam Exposure on Aircraft Carrier, Lawsuit Alleges

Following years of exposure to fire foam chemicals working on an aircraft carrier and submarine, a former U.S. Navy engineer indicates he has been diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Eugene Jackson, of Florida, filed a product liability complaint (PDF) this month against the manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) and toxic chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), alleging that the companies acted with reckless indifference to the health and safety of individuals exposed to their products.

Firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals was regularly used throughout Jackson’s service in the Navy, beginning in 1980, when he trained at the Naval Training Center, then from 1981-1995 when he served as an engineer aboard the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier and the U.S.S. Emory Land submarine tender.

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Jackson indicates he developed kidney cancer as a result of the fire foam exposure, which was confirmed in February 2017, through robotic nephrectomy of his right kidney.

According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, the defendants involved in production or sale of fluorochemical fire foam products knew about the risks, and never should have marketed AFFF.

“At all times pertinent to this Complaint, Defendants regularly participated in placing the fluorochemical products into the American stream of commerce,” the lawsuit states. “As manufacturers, designers, refiners, formulators, distributors, suppliers, sellers, and/or marketers of fluorochemical products, Defendants owed a duty to all persons whom Defendants’ products might foreseeably harm, including Plaintiff, not to manufacture, sell, and/or market any product which is unreasonably dangerous for its intended and foreseeable uses.”

The toxic chemicals were first introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1940’s, because of their ability to resist heat, grease, stains, and water. However, since then the chemicals have been linked to a myriad of adverse health effects including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.

Jackson’s complaint joins a number of fire foam lawsuits filed across the nation, all raising similar allegations of the manufacturers failing to warn of the dangerous PFAS, which have resulted in those exposed to develop testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and other injuries.

Due to the growing number of lawsuits over firefighting foam injuries brought throughout the federal court system, centralized pretrial proceedings have been established in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, where the parties are engaging in coordinated discovery and preparing for a series of early “bellwether” trials designed to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated in claims brought by firefighters nationwide.

2 Comments

  • JamesDecember 2, 2022 at 12:52 am

    I am a retired naval engineer and served as Boiler Technician and Machinist Mate from 1978 - 2000. I now suffer from stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma. I was exposed to along with many other cancer causing chemicals, including the AFFF many times while serving onboard US ships. I was diagnosed with RCC in 2016. Had my right kidney removed and within a year, the cancer had metastasized to my lungs, ribs[Show More]I am a retired naval engineer and served as Boiler Technician and Machinist Mate from 1978 - 2000. I now suffer from stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma. I was exposed to along with many other cancer causing chemicals, including the AFFF many times while serving onboard US ships. I was diagnosed with RCC in 2016. Had my right kidney removed and within a year, the cancer had metastasized to my lungs, ribs and spine. I recall several times being drenched in AFFF when conducting MSF drills. Many times we used AFFF mixed with "big juice" to clean bilges, deck plates and wash our uniforms and under clothing. I even remember being told to ingest the foam while in boot camp as the foam was made from animal bone and would not harm us. Most all in my presence there try it, including myself. I would like to hear from others with RCC that were exposed to this chemical. Thank you and God Bless.

  • DarylMarch 17, 2022 at 7:29 am

    USS Emory S. Land is a submarine tender, not a “submarine” as stated in the article.

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