US judge allows 3M, Florida city to delay ‘forever chemicals’ trial
  • The City of Stuart sought more than $100 million in relief
  • The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday

June 4 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has allowed the city of Stuart, Florida to delay a trial suing industrial giant 3M Co ( MMM.N ) over water contamination with toxic “permanent chemicals”, court filings showed on Monday.

Shares of 3M fell 1.3% in morning trading.

“The parties told the court last night that they have reached a point in their discussions where they believe a final binding agreement will be reached in the near future,” U.S. District Judge Richard Kerkel of South Carolina said in the order.

The judge asked for weekly updates and said he would reschedule the hearing if no agreement was reached within 21 days.

3M and the city said Sunday they were making “significant” progress toward resolving the water contamination case and sought to delay the trial.

The company was scheduled to face trial in South Carolina federal court on Monday in a lawsuit filed by a Florida city accusing it of manufacturing PFAS, or per- and polyflouroalkyl substances, despite knowing for decades that the chemicals cause cancer and other diseases.

“We hope this delay will lead to a meaningful settlement soon,” said Paul Napoli, a partner at law firm Napoli Shkolnik.

3M did not respond to requests for comment.

The city of Stuart said in its 2018 lawsuit that the company manufactured or sold firefighting foams containing PFAS that contaminated local soil and groundwater, and sought more than $100 million for filtration and remediation.

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It was one of more than 4,000 lawsuits filed against 3M and other chemical companies by U.S. municipalities, state governments and individuals that were set up as a test case and consolidated in federal court in South Carolina.

The request for a delay came after three major chemical companies — Chemours Co ( CC.N ), DuPont de Nemours Inc ( DD.N ) and Corteva Inc ( CTVA.N ) — said last Friday they had reached an agreement in principle at $1.19 a share. billion to settle claims of contamination of US public water systems by PFAS.

3M announced in December that it would phase out PFAS production by 2025.

Bloomberg News reported last Friday that 3M had entered into a $10 billion agreement with US cities and towns to settle PFAS water contamination lawsuits. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

Known as “always on chemicals” because they don’t break down easily in the human body or the environment, PFAS are used in a wide range of products from non-stick cookware to cosmetics and have been linked to cancer, hormone dysfunction and environmental damage.

Reporting by Maria Ponnejath in Bangalore and Clark Mindak in New York; Additional reporting by Juby Babu, Akansha Khushi and Aishwarya Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Gogil, Sonali Paul, Sriraj Kalluvila and Devika Syamnath

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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