ALABAMA- On September 26, lawyers for 3M filed requests to consolidate more than 70 federal lawsuits against the company.
3M wanted to to get the cases into a single court under one judge, and that's when the legal battle between Tennessee Riverkeeper and 3M cranked up.
"The defense team for Riverkeeper argued that our case was unique in that we weren't seeking financial damages for injured individuals," said David Whiteside, founder of Tennessee Riverkeeper. "It is the only environmental lawsuit that is filed for this area that seeks to remediate this river, remove the pollution in efforts to make our drinking water safe again and the fish safe to eat again."
That defense convinced a judge to keep the case in North Alabama. Whiteside says this is a huge win.
The Riverkeeper suit is asking the company to clean up the PFOA and PFOS in the Tennessee River. Whiteside says by keeping the lawsuit in the state, his legal team will be able to focus on the local contamination.
"Our legal team and the staff of Tennessee Riverkeeper will not rest until we have a satisfactory outcome and until the good people of Morgan County and Lawrence County don't have to worry about drinking their water and can eat the fish and order is restored in North Alabama," Whiteside added.
Whiteside says this win gets us one step closer to cleaning up the toxic chemicals lurking in the Tennessee River.
The West Morgan East Lawrence Water Authority's lawsuit against 3M will also stay in northern Alabama.
An attorney representing WMEL says they are pleased with the MDL panel's decision.
"If a jury of citizens is going to have to force 3M to do the right thing for the people of Alabama, it should be citizens of Alabama," the attorney stated.