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Plaintiffs claim 3M Company, Inc. and Daikin American released dangerous pollutants into water for years

Hillsboro, Ala., February 15, 2017– Hillsboro mayor Charles Owens has filed a lawsuit against two companies responsible for water pollution in North Alabama. The mayor is joined by hundreds of his constituents and residents from neighboring communities in the lawsuit against 3M Company, Inc. and Daikin America. Mayor Owens alleges that the companies are responsible for dangerous pollutants being released into the Tennessee River for years and that those pollutants ended up in the residents’ drinking water.


In June, high levels of chemicals forced the East Lawrence-West Morgan Water Authority to tell its customers to stop drinking its water. Tests had found that there were high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in the water and the utility couldn’t guarantee it was safe to drink. At the time, Mayor Owens described how his residents were relying on donations of water to meet their needs, calling the work of community organizations a “blessing” for his small community. Thousands of North Alabama residents rely solely on the East Lawrence-West Morgan system for their water.

Owens and the other plaintiffs are represented by the Birmingham law firm Gathings Law. In the complaint filed on January 30, 2017, the plaintiffs claim that the companies’ negligent and willful conduct led to the toxic chemicals contaminating the water supply. Lead attorney Lloyd Gathings says, “Residents of North Alabama should be able to drink their water without fear that what’s coming out of their taps can cause them harm.”

The EPA has long warned that the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, can be dangerous. Studies have shown that exposure to PFOA, PFOS, and related chemicals include cancer, thyroid disease, and high cholesterol. And alarmingly, the chemicals pose particular risks to pregnant women and their children as PFOS can cross through the placenta and has been detected in the umbilical cord blood of babies.

“3M has long been aware of the dangers that PFOA and PFOS pose to the people of North Alabama, yet the company continued to let the chemicals flow into the Tennessee River, just miles from the Water Authority’s intakes,” added Gathings.

Through their lawsuit, the residents are asking the Circuit Court of Lawrence County to force 3M Company, Inc. and the other defendants to immediately stop letting PFOA, PFOS and other chemicals into the Tennessee River. The lawsuit also asks that the companies compensate the residents for damages caused by the pollution. Gathings Law also intends to add more residents who are affected by this pollution to the initial lawsuit.

Gathings Law is a Birmingham-based law firm founded by Lloyd Gathings more than 20 years ago. His guiding principle, that everyone is entitled to the best representation and a level playing field when they enter court system, remains as true today as it did when he founded the firm. The firm specializes in complex litigation and throughout its history has recovered tens of millions of dollars in damages in environmental and pollution-related lawsuits across the Southeast.