Landmark Opinion Upholds rights of PFAS Exposure victims to sue the federal government for medical monitoring

Third Circuit rules Navy can be held responsible for medical monitoring for PFAS exposure

In a landmark precedential opinion in a case brought by the Cuker Law Firm, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rights of people exposed to PFAS which came from military sites to make claims for medical monitoring against the U.S. Government. Read the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit opinion here.

Kristen Giovanni and her family live in Warrington PA, near the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, where they had high levels of two toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS in their drinking water. PFOA and PFOS are types of perfluoro-alkyl substances (PFAS) used in firefighting foam in military bases throughout the country. They sued the U.S. Government for medical monitoring due to their years of exposure to these toxic chemicals.

The trial court dismissed the case, ruling that it was an improper “challenge” to a “cleanup action” under the Federal Superfund law.

The Third Circuit reversed holding that

  1. Private medical monitoring claims are not “challenges” to a Superfund Cleanup and can be heard in court
  2. The Federal Government waived sovereign immunity for medical monitoring because it is a form of injunctive relief and not damages

This will allow people exposed to PFAS which came from military sites to have their medical monitoring claims heard on their merits.


Many thanks to our amici, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earth Justice and Toxics Action Center: CLICK HERE TO READ THE EARTHJUSTICE PRESS RELEASE

Court sets precedent, rules Navy can be sued for PFAS claims, The Intelligencer October 2, 2018