Water Contamination Lawsuits Filed Against Keds Footware Manufacturer Over Use of ScotchGard

The manufacturer of Keds footware faces a growing number of lawsuits over the use of 3M’s Scotchgard, indicating that the company caused water contamination around its Michigan plant, which has allegedly caused property damage and the need for medical monitoring. 

According to Bloomberg News, at least three water contamination lawsuits have filed in Michigan state courts in recent weeks, naming Wolverine World Wide Inc. as the defendant. The complaints indicate that property owners suffered well contamination, following decades of dumping chemicals used to make Scotchgard from its manufacturing plant in Kent County, Michigan.

The complaints follow a similar class action lawsuit (PDF) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan late last year, which named Wolverine, 3M Company, and Waste Management, Inc. as defendants. The lawsuits claim that the contamination is due to the dumping of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substantances, known as PFAS.

The lawsuits come after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) detected that the chemicals had leached from a known contamination site at the Belmont Michigan National Guard Armory into nearby Kent County water wells in August 2017.

“That testing disclosed that PFAS were present in private wells, and PFAS have also been detected in a municipal water supply,” the class action lawsuit noted. “Since the initial identification of the problem, new areas of contamination are being identified and the scope of the pollution is expanding dramatically.”

Wolverine, based in Rockford, Michigan, is the manufacturer of Cat work boots, as well as Keds and Saucony shoes. The company has said that it is in the process of cleaning up the contamination site, but will defend itself against the ongoing litigation.

PFAS have been linked to increased risks of cancer and thyroid problems.

Plaintiffs are seeking for the company to pay for the cleanup of private drinking water supplies, loss of property value, and medical monitoring for those who may have been exposed to the contaminated drinking water.

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