GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Wolverine Worldwide has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging 3M should be held accountable for PFAS contamination in West Michigan.
The lawsuit is the latest case of finger-pointing as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality continues to assess groundwater levels of the likely carcinogen statewide.
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Both companies are defendants in lawsuits filed by residents impacted by the contamination, but Wolverine alleges 3M neglected to tell Wolverine about environmental risks that 3M’s product, Scotchgard, possessed.
>>PDF: Wolverine lawsuit against 3M
In its court documents filed early Wednesday, Wolverine cites a 2017 court filing by the state of Minnesota against 3M.
“It has come to light that 3M hid relevant test data and information about the PFAS compounds in its Scotchgard product for decades,” the lawsuit said, referring to the court filing.
The Minnesota case resulted in a $850 million settlement from 3M after the state discovered the company purposely buried information on the risks of PFAS.
“Scotchgard posed environmental risks that 3M was hiding and ignoring. 3M withheld this information from Wolverine, however, instead assuring it that there were no environmental risks from the Scotchgard product that 3M had sold to Wolverine, and that Wolverine had used, for over 40 years,” Wolverine’s lawsuit alleges.
Previously, Target 8 found 3M warned Wolverine about Scotchgard 20 years ago in a letter detailing the company’s intention of changing the product’s formula. The suit does not directly address the letter, but instead argues 3M began advising customers the company would begin phasing out the product in 1999 without warning of potential health affects.
“3M made it, 3M sold it at a profit to thousands of companies and millions of consumers for decades, and 3M can no longer run from its responsibilities to Wolverine, the community, and the State of Michigan for the impacts of Scotchgard,” Wolverine Worldwide CEO and Chairman Blake W. Krueger said in a news release. “Wolverine has already demonstrated its commitment to helping our friends, family and neighbors address groundwater concerns by conducting extensive water testing and providing highly effective water filters. Now, we are taking necessary steps to ensure that 3M is held accountable for its conduct and participates in the remediation efforts we have been leading for more than 18 months.”
Wolverine also accuses 3M of not helping in the aftermath of discovering contamination in West Michigan. On Dec. 11, leaders from Plainfield and Algoma townships announced Wolverine told them it would not be funding a project to extend municipal water to people in PFAS zones unless 3M followed suit.
A spokesperson for Wolverine said the lawsuit will not impact any other pending litigation facing the company.