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3M Seeks Delay in Start of Trial in Light of Department of Health Report

February 09, 2018 10:18 AM

Attorneys for 3M have filed a motion seeking a delay in the start of a trial in a lawsuit filed against the company by the state in light of a Minnesota Department of Health report released Wednesday that found no connection between 3M's disposal of chemicals and cancer and premature births in the east metro.

A hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday. The trial was expected to begin next Tuesday.

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The motion refers to the issuing of the report as an "important, probably game-changing development."

RELATED: MDH Finds No Link Between 3M and Cancer, Premature Births Rates in East Metro

"3M understands and appreciates the Court's efforts to keep this action moving towards a February 13 trial date," reads the motion's conclusion. "3M also hoped to try this case on February 13. Nevertheless, 3M asks for a continuance because it cannot see another course that would not result in extreme prejudice to 3M."

The MDH issued the study after public concern was raised over media reports about the state's lawsuit against 3M. The report directly contradicts an expert that the state attorney general's office hired for the massive lawsuit.

A spokesman with MDH said the release of the report a week prior to trial was coincidental.

Attorney General Lori Swanson criticized the release of the report in a statement Wednesday evening, citing an email sent by an MDH employee who said the report was rushed.

RELATED: State Blames 3M for Causing Higher Cancer Rates, Premature Births in East Metro

In the email, the MDH employee said, "the cancer portion of the report will be weak."

The email went on to read, "We are working furiously to make the report as palatable as we can, but it will be nowhere near our standards and frankly it will run the political risk of embarrassing MDH."

Swanson responded saying, "I can only conclude from this that the agency is embarrassed because it is so late to the table in protecting the public health."

A statement released by MDH said the concerns, "did not pertain to the conclusions of the analyses, but rather with a desire to ensure that we could develop additional examples and background information to more easily explain our analyses to the community."

In the statement, MDH went on to say the report had a full and proper technical review of the study and that the report was supported by the staff involved.

The lawsuit stems from 3M-made Perfluorinated chemicals, known as PFCs. The chemicals were used in its popular household product Scotchguard until the company phased out the chemical in the early 2000s.

But for more than 40 years, the state says, the company dumped industrial waste containing PFCs at four disposal sites in the east metro: Lake Elmo, Oakdale, Woodbury and Cottage Grove.

Multiple studies have linked PFCs to cancer and birth defects.

In a news release Wednesday, MDH said, "Clear determinations are difficult to make, as the available data cannot establish cause and effect and cannot identify small increases in various adverse outcomes over and above the normal variation across the population."

MDH scientists examined data for low birth weight and premature births in the affected metro communities compared to other non-affected communities. The report said researchers found some variations in their research, "the variation was within range that would be expected."

MDH also stated that the analysis found health differences within the affected communities that are, "consistent with health disparities and trends seen across Minnesota," in regards to low birth weight and premature births.

The report also said researchers found no differences in rates of cancers between the impacted community and other areas in the last 30 years.
 


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