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Judge allows 3M, Florida city to delay ‘forever chemicals’ trial

Posted On: Jun. 5, 2023 2:43 PM CST


(Reuters) — A federal judge Monday granted a delay of a trial in a lawsuit brought by a Florida city against industrial conglomerate 3M Co. contamination from toxic “forever chemicals,” after the parties said they were close to a settlement.

"The parties informed the Court last evening that they have reached a stage in those discussions where they believe a final binding agreement is achievable in the near future," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston, South Carolina, said in the order.

The judge asked for weekly updates and said he would reschedule the trial if an agreement is not reached within 21 days.

Set to have been a test case, the lawsuit is one of the more than 4,000 filed against 3M and other chemical companies by U.S. municipalities, state governments and individuals that have been consolidated in the federal court in South Carolina.

The company was scheduled to face trial in the South Carolina federal court on Monday in a lawsuit brought by Stuart, Florida, accusing it of manufacturing PFAS, or per- and polyflouroalkyl substances, despite knowing for decades that the chemicals can cause cancer and other ailments.

The city of Stuart claimed in its 2018 lawsuit that the company made or sold firefighting foams containing PFAS that polluted local soil and groundwater and sought more than $100 million for filtration and remediation.

3M announced in December that it would stop producing PFAS by 2025. It has said in court documents that PFAS have not been linked with health problems at the levels being discovered in drinking water.