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Plaintiff's PFAS Class Action Dismissed

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a major class action suit brought on behalf of all Ohio residents. While PFAS litigation against manufacturers has proliferated, courts may be trending away from the breadth seen in early cases. 

After the trial court certified a class consisting of all residents of the State of Ohio against 10 defendants, the 6th Circuit dismissed the complaint, siding with the defendants who had alleged lack of standing. The appellate court found no compensable injury traceable to any particular defendant. Consistent with established federal precedent, the court relied on the language in the complaint to hold that a plaintiff may not lump defendants together with general allegations against all defendants, without specifying what each defendant did to harm the plaintiff.  In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. C-8 Pers. Inj. Litig., 87 F.4th 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2023). The decision is having a ripple effect on pending cases, and will likely continue to impact future litigation, requiring PFAS plaintiffs to have scientific support for claims when they file suit.

From the court in re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. C-8 Pers. Inj. Litig., 87 F.4th 315, 318 (6th Cir. 2023).

Hardwick does not know what companies manufactured the particular chemicals in his bloodstream; nor does he know, or indeed have much idea, whether those chemicals might someday make him sick; nor does he have any sickness or symptoms now. Yet, of the thousands of companies that have manufactured chemicals of this general type over the past half-century, Hardwick has chosen to sue the ten defendants present here. His allegations regarding those defendants are both collective—rarely does he allege an action by a specific defendant—and conclusory. Yet Hardwick sought to represent a class comprising nearly every person “residing in the United States”—a class from which, under Civil Rule 23(c), nobody could choose to opt out. Hardwick asked the court to appoint a “Science Panel”—whose conclusions, he said, “shall be deemed definitive and binding on all the parties[.]”


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