City of La Crosse files lawsuit against chemical manufacturers connected to PFAS

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The city of La Crosse has filed a lawsuit against nearly two dozen chemical companies aimed at getting those companies to take responsibility for groundwater well contamination on French Island.

“Our city and residents have been severely impacted by these chemical manufacturers hiding the dangers of using their AFFF Products. From the time we detected PFAS contamination at our airport, we have worked to identify the extent and causes and, most importantly, protect the health and safety of community residents from that contamination,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat. “We aim to hold the polluters responsible for the contamination they caused and require the polluters-not the City or residents- to pay to clean it up.”

Law firms Crueger Dickinson and Napoli Shkolnik filed the lawsuit on behalf of the city against eight manufacturers of firefighting foams containing PFAS and PFOS and 15 manufacturers of fluorosurfactants containing PFOS and PFOA.

“Defendants were aware since the 1960s and 1970s that PFOA and PFOS were toxic, do not biodegrade, are persistent in the environment, move easily through soil and groundwater, and pose a significant risk to human health and health and safety; yet Defendants elected to manufacture and sell products utilizing these chemicals without warning their customers, placing profits over public health and safety,” according to the complaint.

Lead co-counsel for the city, Erin Dickinson of Crueger Dickinson, added that the city used those products at the La Crosse Regional Airport for routine firefighting training and to extinguish active fires while it was unaware of the dangers the chemicals contained.

“This lawsuit represents the city’s continued leadership to address a serious public health issue,” said Dickinson. “With this lawsuit, the city joins over 100 government entities around the United States to hold defendants responsible for their actions in contaminating the water we drink.”

Neither Wisconsin nor the federal government have finalized PFAS contamination standards.  Regardless, the city alleges this danger must be cleaned up and seeks compensatory damages for the costs associated to investigate, remediate and monitor the contamination.

“The City joins an important nationwide fight to hold the Defendant chemical companies accountable for their actions in hiding serious and known dangers in their products and exposing communities to the risks of these products,” said Napoli Shkolnik’s Paul Napolico-lead counsel for the City.  “We look forward to pursing this important litigation on behalf of the City of La Crosse.”

The defendants in the lawsuit include THE 3M COMPANY, f/k/a Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., AGC CHEMICALS AMERICAS INC., AMEREX CORPORATION, ARKEMA INC., ARCHROMA MANAGEMENT LLC, BASF CORPORATION, individually and as successor in interest to Ciba Inc., BUCKEYE FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY, CARRIER GLOBAL CORPORATION, CHEMDESIGN PRODUCTS INC., CHEMGUARD INC. CHEMICALS, INC., CLARIANT CORPORATION, individually and as successor in interest to Sandoz Chemical Corporation, CORTEVA, INC., individually and as successor in interest to DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, DEEPWATER CHEMICALS, INC., DUPONT DE NEMOURS INC., individually and as successor in interest to DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, DYNAX CORPORATION, E. I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY, individually and as successor in interest to DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, KIDDE-FENWAL, INC., individually and as successor in interest to Kidde Fire Fighting, Inc., NATION FORD CHEMICAL COMPANY, NATIONAL FOAM, INC., THE CHEMOURS COMPANY, individually and as successor in interest to DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, THE CHEMOURS COMPANY FC, LLC, individually and as successor in interest to DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, TYCO FIRE PRODUCTS, LP, individually and as successor in interest to The Ansul Company.

Read the Complaint and Summons