Relevant Document:Motion to Sever
Today the city of Stuart, Fla., asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to sever defendants E. I. DuPont de Nemours, The Chemours Co. and their affiliates from the upcoming governmental bellwether trial
in the aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, multidistrict litigation, leaving 3M Co. as the only manufacturer of PFAS “forever chemicals” to face the jury. Fellow defendant Kidde-Fenwal Inc. filed bankruptcy
on Monday, May 15, to deal with legacy National Foam AFFF liability and was automatically severed.
The city seeks $105 million in costs to address PFAS contamination
in its drinking water and soil. The bellwether trial on the city’s claims is set to begin June 5. According to the city, “3M is responsible for most of the PFAS contamination in Stuart,” and thus the city can “largely be made whole in accordance with the scheduling of its long-awaited day in Court” even without DuPont and Chemours. The city maintains that leaving 3M as the only trial defendant would also streamline and shorten the trial and says DuPont and Chemours have agreed to be severed.
“Given that the DuPont-Related Entities are the sole remaining telomer Defendants in Stuart whose claims are not stayed, Plaintiff seeks to sever its claims against the DuPont-Related Entities so that the trial may move forward as scheduled against the only non-telomer Defendant, namely, 3M,” the city concludes.
The city notes that Kidde-Fenwal’s bankruptcy does not stay claims against defendants that “may be subjected to litigation for transactions or events involving Kidde.” Nondebtor stays are only appropriate in “unusual circumstances,” the city argues, and there are no unusual circumstances “to link the DuPont-Related Entities to the stay applicable to Kidde and National Foam.” Thus, severance “is the most reasonable course of action to maintain the bellwether trial.”