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A Texas firefighter has filed a product liability lawsuit that alleges toxic chemicals in fire foam caused a testicular cancer diagnosis, following years of exposure throughout his career.
The complaint (PDF) was filed last week by Michael Ralph McMurray, pursuing damages against M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Chemguard, and numerous other safety equipment and chemical manufacturers for failing to warn about the risks associated with aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF).
The fire foam products that were widely used by the military and civilian firefighters over the past few decades contained toxic chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are now known to build up in the body and increase the risk of cancer and other health problems.
According to the lawsuit, McMurray was diagnosed with testicular cancer after years of exposure to the fire foam during training exercises and in response to certain fuel based fires.
“Defendants did not warn public entities, firefighter trainees who they knew would foreseeably come into contact with their AFFF products, or firefighters employed by either civilian and/or military employers that use of and/or exposure to Defendants’ AFFF products containing PFAS and/or its precursors would pose a danger to human health,” the lawsuit states. “The Plaintiff was never informed that this product was inherently dangerous. Nor was the Plaintiff warned about the known health risks associated with this product.”
Experts indicate PFAS chemicals contained in AFFF may take thousands of years to degrade, and past studies have shown their ability to enter and stay in the environment and human body through the air, dust, food, soil, and water.
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.
McMurray’s complaint joins a number of firefighting 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.