Jeff Civins in Bloomberg Environment: 3M PFAS Deal With Wolverine May Foreshadow Cases

February 27, 2020

Haynes and Boone, LLP Senior Counsel Jeff Civins talked with Bloomberg Environment about how 3M Co.'s agreement to pay $55 million to clothier Wolverine World Wide Inc. to clean up polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Michigan could serve as a model for other companies hoping to shift their liabilities for “forever chemicals.”

Here is an excerpt:

3M announced the agreement with Wolverine on Thursday to resolve a legal dispute between the two companies over who should pay to clean up pollution near a former Wolverine manufacturing site. 3M originally developed and produced per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the 1940s. The chemicals have been found in drinking water in towns across the country.

Wolverine used PFAS-laden Scotchgard to waterproof the clothing and shoes it produces, according to the company’s complaint against 3M, which changed the Scotchgard formula around 2002 over concerns about PFAS. Wolverine manufactures shoes for brands including Saucony, Hush Puppies, Sperry, and Keds.

The 3M settlement could also open the door for companies that have PFAS waste, said Jeff Civins, senior counsel at Haynes and Boone, LLP in Austin, Texas. It’s one of the few cases where a purchaser, in this case Wolverine, has sued and settled with a manufacturer, 3M, because of contamination associated with the purchaser’s disposal of the manufacturer’s product. Wolverine alleges 3M failed to disclose crucial facts about the product.

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