Bloomberg Law
Dec. 23, 2022, 10:01 AM

Why 3M Can’t Escape PFAS Liability by Ending Production: Charts

Andrew Wallender
Andrew Wallender

3M Co. made the historic announcement Tuesday that it is leaving the business of manufacturing “forever chemicals"—a multibillion dollar industry the company helped found nearly six decades ago.

It will cease production of all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by the end of 2025 due to a confluence of reasons that includes shifting industry desires and “accelerating regulatory trends,” 3M’s chief executive officer Mike Roman told Bloomberg News.

But beyond “accelerating regulatory trends,” the company is facing a deluge of litigation that won’t end when production does. Beginning in 2020, at least 3 PFAS-related lawsuits a day were filed against the company on average, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of litigation data. Bloomberg Law identified at least 3,287 lawsuits that mention 3M as a defendant between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 19, 2022.

At least 3,508 lawsuits against 3M were identified as mentioning PFAS dating back to 2015.

The data was collected through federal court docket searches, as well as listings of lawsuits associated with federal PFAS-related multidistrict litigation cases. Some litigation may not appear in the collected data because complaints were not accessible through online searching. So it’s likely that these figures undercount the total litigation against 3M and other companies.

Billions of dollars of liability are at stake. 3M received a warning sign this past summer when a federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation wrapping in thousands of PFAS lawsuits refused to grant 3M immunity from some lawsuits due to its status as a government contractor. The decision raised the likelihood of large settlements or even jury trials in the coming years.

The following charts reveal some important realities of the lawsuits 3M faces:

1. 3M is a major defendant of PFAS claims

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2. The majority of PFAS litigation is post-2020

3. Product liability claims dominate

4. Almost all the lawsuits are in the multidistrict litigation

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Wallender in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Cohen at