Praedicat expands litigation tracker to include PFAS, toxic baby food and paraquat

Praedicat has updated its litigation tracker in CoMeta to include three new mass litigations: PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), toxic baby food (heavy metals in baby food) and paraquat (a herbicide alleged to cause Parkinson’s disease).

The new mass litigations will be added to the tracker’s ongoing coverage of COVID-19 personal injury litigation.

PFAS is the largest litigation of the four. “There are 5,153 complaints, filed in 40 courts, naming 193 companies, spanning 82 industries, over 22 years,” according to David Loughran (pictured), senior-vice president of Praedicat. The litigation tracker is designed to be a comprehensive inventory of the litigation and will be updated as new cases are added. “PFAS may become the largest and most complex mass litigation in a generation, and we intend to help our clients monitor and manage it.”

The most well-known of the PFAS chemicals are perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, which was used to create Scotchgard, and perfluorooctanoic acid, used to create Teflon. While these chemicals were phased out of production in recent years in the US, scientists have been raising concerns that a set of replacement chemicals continue to have health and environmental impacts. PFOA, PFOS, and their replacement chemicals with similar structure constitute the PFAS chemicals. Their persistence in the environment has caused them to be dubbed “the forever chemicals.” They have been used in a wide range of products including food packaging, firefighting foam, cosmetics, building products and more. “They are both forever and everywhere,” says Loughran.

Toxic baby food litigation began in February after a Congressional report found elevated levels of heavy metals in baby food. The resulting litigation now includes more than 120 cases involving prominent baby food manufacturers along with supermarket chains.

The Paraquat litigation, which primarily involves workers with Parkinson’s disease exposed to the herbicide, began in 2017, but has recently grown to 116 cases after the first cases were allowed to proceed past initial hearings earlier this year.

Praedicat’s emerging risk solution is intended to provide insight on emerging risks from early identification through litigation. The possibility of baby food and paraquat litigation was evident in Praedicat’s early warning system years before these litigations emerged.

In the case of PFAS, where the litigation began before Praedicat was launched in 2012, Praedicat’s early warning system anticipated the significant increase in cases witnessed since. “The expansion of the litigation tracker represents our vision of an end-to-end solution to managing large-scale casualty risk for our clients,” according to Julia Fuller, Praedicat’s senior vice-president for account management. “The social inflation environment in the United States today is leading to a growing number of new mass litigations. Our plan is to continue expanding our mass litigation court data over time, prioritizing the addition of newly launched or accelerating litigation events.”

The litigation tracker was launched in 2020 with COVID-19 liability, which so far includes 650 cases against 530 defendants. The tracker monitors complaints filed in all US state and federal courts. The case information is available at the company level, linked to Praedicat’s science-based analytics, and is updated monthly as new cases are filed.

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