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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.
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.