PFOA 2005
September 28 , 2005. 3M wants papers sealed.
Suit over Scotchgard chemicals proceeds.
By John Welbes. Pioneer Press (Minnesotta).

Return to
PFOA Class Action Suit
Newspaper articles and Documents related to PFOA Class Action

See brief introduction to PFOA and PFOS


September 28, 2005

Pioneer Press (Minnesota)

3M wants papers sealed
Suit over Scotchgard chemicals proceeds


3M Co. is prepared to hand over more than 500,000 pages of documents related to its production of two chemicals but wants the judge handling the Washington County lawsuit to seal the records.

Six county residents are suing the Maplewood-based manufacturer for contaminating ground water with certain perfluorochemicals, one of which 3M once used in its Scotchgard fabric protector.

The plaintiffs want access to company documents detailing the 50-year history of the chemicals. But 3M attorneys argued during a court hearing Tuesday that they don't want to have to carefully screen each document for trade secrets or confidential information that should remain private.

"It would take months to get these out" if they aren't going to be sealed, said Cooper Ashley, an attorney representing 3M. The 3M legal team added that they've had 60 attorneys and paralegals compiling the 500,000 documents for four months. Sealing the records keeps them out of the public's view but allows plaintiffs' attorneys access.

If the plaintiffs' attorneys found something in the documents they wanted to share with government environmental regulators or the media, Ashley said, they could come back to court for that approval.

3M is just shifting the burden of determining what is confidential to the residents' legal team, said Mark Englehart, an attorney representing the Washington County residents.

The lawsuit, filed almost a year ago, centers on 3M's production of two perfluorochemicals, PFOA and PFOS, and their disposal at nearby dump sites. The chemicals were made at 3M's Chemolite plant in Cottage Grove. 3M insists that studies show the two chemicals are not harmful to humans.

The three-hour hearing Tuesday before Judge Mary Hannon in Washington County District Court showed the two sides have key differences on exactly what the Minnesota case is even about.

"Fundamentally, this is a personal injury case," said Mike McCarthy, an attorney for 3M.

The plaintiffs' attorneys disagree, arguing they shouldn't have to prove their clients have been injured to get class certification for the lawsuit and head to trial. Hannon is expected to rule on a number of pre-trial motions in coming weeks.

Earlier this year, another Washington County judge ruled that medical monitoring of residents in Washington County wouldn't be required, something the plaintiffs' attorneys had sought. The plaintiffs' attorneys are coordinating blood tests of Washington County residents on their own.

Englehart emphasized during Tuesday's hearing that the case will proceed whether as a class-action suit or as a number of individual claims.

John Welbes can be reached at or 651-228-2175.

Fluoride Action Network | Pesticide Project | 315-379-9200 |