Attorneys for Decatur, Morgan County in 3M litigation to receive $7 million


DECATUR, Ala. — The $98 million lawsuit settlement with 3M reached by the Decatur City Council, Morgan County Commission and Decatur Utilities also included the governments approving an overall payment of $7 million to the Decatur law firm Harris, Caddell and Shanks, the firm that helped negotiate the settlement.

The lawsuit settlement related to PFAS chemical waste from 3M in Decatur and Morgan County includes millions for capping landfill pods, cleanup work, tracking groundwater contamination and $35 million for a new recreation facility for Decatur.

The current Aquadome property in Decatur sits adjacent to the former Brookhaven Middle School which was built on a closed landfill where PFAS chemicals were detected in the soil.  There are no federal regulations governing PFAS chemicals in soil. There is an FDA lifetime health advisory for PFAS levels in drinking water. The Decatur-3M settlement does not explicitly address drinking water.

Decatur Utilities issued a statement on Oct. 26 that said the settlement was not related to drinking water supplied by Decatur Utilities, saying its “drinking water is completely safe and meets or exceeds all state and federal regulatory standards for regulated contaminants AND the EPA’s health advisory limits for unregulated Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).”

The approval of the $7 million in law firm payments came in a resolution Oct. 26, according to government records, when the council and commission approved the 3M settlement.

One of the wrinkles in the 3M litigation was Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities were named as co-defendants. Decatur and 3M officials told News 19 last year that as part of settlement negotiations 3M was paying the legal bills for the litigation for Decatur and Morgan County.  

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