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Arizona Water Improvement District Sues for PFAS Damages

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by Patrick J. Paul

On September 2, 2020, the DeAnza Domestic Water Improvement District of Pima County formed in 2018 to construct, operate and maintain a domestic water system to provide drinking water in Pima County Arizona, filed a complaint in state court in Pima County against numerous alleged manufacturers and/or marketers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a firefighting product which contains two polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), namely, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and/or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

The complaint alleges that PFOA and PFOS are toxic, do not biodegrade, are persistent in the environment and pose a significant risk to human health and the environment and that the defendants were aware of these facts as far back as the 1960s. The complaint further alleges that defendants nevertheless elected to include PFOA and PFOS in their AFFF formulations and that once AFFF was released to the environment, DeAnza’s water supply was contaminated and that DeAnza will incur sampling costs associated with this contamination for the next 100 years.

Allegations in the complaint include claims for strict liability associated with a defective product, failure to warn, negligence, public and private nuisance and trespass. The complaint seeks no equitable or injunctive relief but compensatory damages only including punitive damages.