Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced today that they have filed a lawsuit against three Wisconsin manufacturers and 15 other defendants for “wrongful, deceptive and tortious conduct” that directly led to PFAS contamination of water, property and natural resources in Wisconsin. . The complaint, authorized by Governor Evers and filed in Dane County by Attorney General Kaul and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the ordinary and intended use of their products would result in dangerous effects on public health. and the environment that is currently experienced throughout Wisconsin. Taxpayers in Wisconsin currently face enormous costs to combat PFAS contamination, costs that the lawsuit says should be borne by those responsible for their statewide presence.
“Every Wisconsinite deserves access to clean, safe water that is free of lead, PFAS and other contaminants long known to harm our children, families, farmers, communities and industries across our state,” said Governor Evers. “Every corner of Wisconsin has been affected by PFAS contamination, and communities from Marinette to Wausau to French Island are facing the harsh reality of PFAS in their wells, forcing some individuals and families to even rely on water coolers and plastic water bottles for clean drinking water. We’re taking immediate action to fight PFAS in Wisconsin by ensuring polluter accountability and responsibility and ensuring Wisconsinans don’t have to foot the bill to clean up the mess others have caused. .
Last year, Governor Evers and Attorney General Kaul announced they were preparing to take legal action against companies responsible for PFAS contamination following recommendations from the plan released by the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council. , was created by Governor Evers in 2019. The lawsuit filed today details the decades-long Wisconsin PFAS-related business activity of each of the defendants that contributed to PFAS contamination in Wisconsin. He alleges causes of action including public and private nuisance, negligence, strict product liability for failure to warn and faulty design, and trespass. The state seeks to “recover all costs, expenses, and damages associated with defendants’ tortious conduct, including, but not limited to, restoration and loss of use damages, damage to natural resources, and costs of investigating, reducing, containing, preventing, treating, eliminating, and remediating PFAS contamination in Wisconsin. The state is also seeking punitive damages to reflect defendants’ wrongful conduct.”
“PFAS contamination has impacted communities and water quality across the state,” AG Kaul said. “This lawsuit is about ensuring that responsible companies — not Wisconsin taxpayers — will pay to clean it up.”
PFAS are per- and poly-fluoroalkyls, synthetic chemicals known to be toxic, mobile and persistent in the environment, meaning they do not break down naturally. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in many products, including nonstick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain sprays, and some types of fire-fighting foam. PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. These contaminants are linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Epidemiological studies have shown that potential adverse human health effects from exposure to certain PFAS include increased serum cholesterol, immune dysregulation, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, and kidney and testicular cancers. . Exposure to certain types of PFAS is also associated with low birth weight in humans, suppressed immune response, dyslipidemia, impaired kidney function, and delayed onset of menstruation.
A copy of the file is available here. More information on the status of PFAS in Wisconsin, as well as the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) created by Governor Evers in 2019, can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. here.