Several Wisconsin homeowners have raised objections to a $17.5 million proposed settlement with makers of firefighting foam that resolves claims the foam contaminated drinking wells, including that the attorney fees are too generous for the result.
The court is weighing a request from lead plaintiffs Joan and Richard Campbell to approve $5.8 million in fees for attorneys who represented the class of homeowners alleging the foam designed and tested by Tyco Fire Products LP and others contaminated their properties in Wisconsin. The case over the foam is the first in South Carolina multidistrict litigation to reach a settlement.
The Campbells told the court in March that a fee award of 33% of the settlement fund is common and appropriate in a case such as this. But some objectors said that filing with the court that the proposed attorney fees are excessive and don’t leave enough for the victims.
The proposed settlement, which was put before the court in January, would compensate roughly 300 homeowners who allege Tyco Fire Products, Chemguard Inc. and ChemDesign Products released firefighting foam that contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that contaminated private drinking wells.
According to court documents, $15 million of the proposed settlement will be allocated for property damage-related claims, while $2.5 million will go to individuals diagnosed with certain diseases including testicular and kidney cancer.
The Campbell case is one of dozens moving forward as part of multidistrict litigation in South Carolina federal court consolidated in December 2018. The cases generally allege harm from firefighting foam, called AFFF, that allegedly contaminated local drinking water and involve major manufacturers such as 3M, which was not involved in this particular case. AFFF has been linked to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure and thyroid disease, to those exposed through drinking water.