Johnson v. 3M

Citation563 F.Supp.3d 1253
Decision Date20 September 2021
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 4:20-cv-8-AT
Parties Jarrod JOHNSON, individually, and on Behalf of a Class of persons similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. 3M et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia

563 F.Supp.3d 1253

Jarrod JOHNSON, individually, and on Behalf of a Class of persons similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
3M et al., Defendants.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:20-cv-8-AT

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Rome Division.

Signed September 20, 2021


Adam Wade Pittman, Brett Cooper Thompson, F. Jerome Tapley, Pro Hac Vice, Hirlye R. Lutz, III, Pro Hac Vice, Nina Towle Herring, Pro Hac Vice, Robert Akira Watson, Pro Hac Vice, Cory Watson, P.C., Birmingham, AL, Gary A. Davis, Pro Hac Vice, Gary A. Davis, Attorney, Ashville, NC, James S. Whitlock, Pro Hac Vice, Davis & Whitlock, P.C., Asheville, NC, Ryals Drayton Stone, The Stone Law Group - Trial Lawyers, LLC, Rome, GA, William Sims Stone, The Stone Law Group - Trial Lawyers, LLC, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff.

Benjamin Phillip Harmon, Harlan Irby Prater, IV, Pro Hac Vice, Mark Christian King, Pro Hac Vice, William Larkin Radney, IV, Pro Hac Vice, Jackson R. Sharman, III, Lightfoot Franklin & White, LLC, Birmingham, AL, Katherine Leigh D'Ambrosio, Monica Perdomo Witte, Robert B. Remar, Sterling Gardner Culpepper, III, Rogers & Hardin, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant 3M Company.

David Baird Carpenter, Geoffrey C. Rathgeber, Douglas G. Scribner, Fiona O'Carroll, Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants Aladdin Manufacturing Corporation, Mohawk Carpet, LLC, Mohawk Industries, Inc.

Warren N. Coppedge, Jr., Stephen Michmerhuizen, Coppedge, Michmerhuizen & Rayburn, Dalton, GA, for Defendant Arrowstar, LLC.

Adam K. Peck, Pro Hac Vice, Lana A. Olson, Pro Hac Vice, Suzanne A. Fleming, Pro Hac Vice, Brian Patrick Kappel, John M. Johnson, Pro Hac Vice, Amaobi Joseph Enyinnia, Lightfoot Franklin & White, LLC, Birmingham, AL, Blair Joseph Cash, Moseley Marcinak Law Group, LLP, Kennesaw, GA, Thomas C. Causby, Morris & Dean, Dalton, GA, for Defendant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

Michael J. Dumitru, W. Randall Wilson, Pro Hac Vice, Miller & Martin, PLLC, Chattanooga, TN, Elizabeth Marquardt, Miller & Martin PLLC, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Engineered Floors, LLC.

Meaghan Goodwin Boyd, Alston & Bird, LLP, Jamie Blaxton Carroll, Michael Scott Cole, Michael Weiss, Milton Russell Wofford, Jr., Carroll & Weiss, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Milliken & Company.

David C. Higney, Grant Konvalinka & Harrison, Chattanooga, TN, for Defendant Oriental Weavers USA, Inc.

Christian James Crowder-Bromley, Julia Fenwick Ost, William Vance Custer, IV, Jennifer Burch Dempsey, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants Shaw Industries, Inc., Shaw Industries Group, Inc.

Christian Collier Feldman, Pro Hac Vice, John W. Scott, Scott Dukes & Geisler, Ethan A. Wilkinson, Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn and Dial, Birmingham, AL, Brendan Hanner White, Michael Joseph Sullivan, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, Vonnetta Leatrice Benjamin, Lewis Brisbois, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Tarkett USA, Inc.

Adam K. Peck, Pro Hac Vice, Suzanne A. Fleming, Pro Hac Vice, Brian Patrick Kappel, Amaobi Joseph Enyinnia, Lightfoot Franklin & White, LLC, Birmingham, AL, Blair Joseph Cash, Moseley Marcinak Law Group, LLP, Kennesaw, GA, Thomas C. Causby, Morris & Dean, Dalton, GA, for Defendant The Chemours Company.

Jenna W. Fullerton, Meredith Corey Lee, M. Ellis Lord, Pro Hac Vice, William Scott Parrish, Miller & Martin, PLLC, Chattanooga, TN, Neil Louis Wilcove, Miller & Martin, PLLC, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant The Dixie Group, Inc.

Christopher Jones, Pro Hac Vice, Christopher M. Ward, Pro Hac Vice, Calfee Halter & Griswold LLP, Columbus, OH, Meaghan Goodwin Boyd, Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Americhem, Inc. c/o Corporation Service Company 40 Technology Parkway, South Suite 300 Norcross, GA 30092.

David Joel Marmins, Edward Alexander Marshall, Morgan Ellen McCloy Harrison, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Chem-Tech Finishers, Inc. c/o Tom Minor 745 College Drive Dalton, GA 30722.

Robert Harris Smalley, III, McCamy Phillips Tuggle & Fordham, Dalton, GA, for Defendants Color Express, Inc. c/o Doyle Gazaway 218 Stadium Way Cohuta, GA 30710, JB NSD, Inc.

Tracy C. Wooden, Wooden Law Firm, PC, Chattanooga, TN, for Defendant Columbia Recycling Corp. c/o Robert Gary Goldberg 1001 Chattanooga Avenue PO Box 2101 Dalton, GA 30720.

Douglas A. Vonderhaar, Pro Hac Vice, Kayla Marie Prieto, Pro Hac Vice, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Columbus, OH, Kevin Daniel Bradberry, Ronald Barrett Gaither, Jr., Baker Hostetler, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Cycle Tex, Inc. c/o Phillip H. Neff 2002 Sheffield Place Dalton, GA 30720.

Lindsey B. Mann, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Dalton Utilities c/o Tom Bundros 1200 V.D. Parrott Jr. Parkway P.O. Box 869 Dalton, GA 30722.

C. Bradford Marsh, Myrece Rebecca Johnson, Sara Alexandre, Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, LLP, Robert A. Luskin, Robert Ernest Noble, III, Goodman McGuffey, LLP, Atlanta, GA, Henry C. Tharpe, Jr., Sponcler and Tharpe, Dalton, GA, for Defendant Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority c/o Dierk Verhoeff, Executive Director 587 Gazaway Road, SE PO Box 1205 Dalton, GA 30722.

E. Fitzgerald Veira, Lindsey B. Mann, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Water, Light, and Sinking Fund Commission of City of Dalton c/o Tom Bundros 1200 V.D. Parrott Jr. Parkway P.O. Box 869 Dalton, GA 30722.

Elizabeth Bolton Davis, Kwende B. Jones, Burr & Forman, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Fibro Chem, LLC.

Meaghan Goodwin Boyd, Shannon Vreeland, Jessica Williams-Vickery, Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant IMACC Corporation.

David Montgomery Moore, Earth and Water Law, LLC, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant PSG-Functional Materials, LLC.

Samantha A. Lunn, Husch Blackwell LLP, Chattanooga, TN, for Defendant Secoa Technology, LLC c/o Frank Guy Henley, III 3225 Old Crider Road Rocky Face, GA 30740.

Elizabeth A. Dieck, Pro Hac Vice, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP, Charleston, SC, Alexander Bunnen Feinberg, Maynard Cooper & Gale, P.C., Birmingham, AL, Joshua David Marks, Parker Poe, Atlanta, GA, Steven Daniel Weber, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Charlotte, NC, for Defendant Dystar, LP.

Martin A. Shelton, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant MFG Chemical, LLC.

Brooks Smith, Troutman, Pepper, Hamilton, & Sanders, LLP, Richmond, VA, E. Fitzgerald Veira, Lindsey B. Mann, John Houston Shaner, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant City of Dalton, Georgia.

Christopher L. Yeilding, Pro Hac Vice, Balch & Bingham, Kary Bryant Wolfe, Pro Hac Vice, Steven F. Casey, Pro Hac Vice, Jones Walker, LLP, Birmingham, AL, Theodore M. Grossman, Pro Hac Vice, Jones Day, New York, NY, William Emery Underwood, Jones Walker, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Daikin America, Inc.

Merideth Snow Daly, Pro Hac Vice, Alexandra B. Cunningham, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Richmond, VA, Brooke F. Voelzke, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant INV Performance Surfaces, LLC.

Bilal Harris, David Montgomery Moore, Earth and Water Law, LLC, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant Polyventive LLC.

ORDER

Amy Totenberg, United States District Judge

563 F.Supp.3d 1268

Dalton, Georgia has been dubbed the "Carpet Capital of the World." But Dalton's carpet commerce, according to Plaintiff, has resulted in serious harm to individuals that live in the surrounding area because certain chemicals heavily used in carpet production, PFAS, are both toxic and everlasting. Plaintiff alleges that the numerous defendants here — who are chemical suppliers, carpet manufacturers, intermediaries, the City of Dalton d/b/a Dalton Utilities ("Dalton Utilities"), and the Dalton Whitfield Sold Waste Authority ("DWSWA") — have contributed to or caused the discharge of these chemicals into North Georgia waterways around Dalton. As a result, the discharged PFAS have contaminated water supplies downstream of Dalton, specifically the water supplies for the City of Rome and Floyd County, thereby injuring Plaintiff and others similarly situated. Now before the Court are a deluge of motions to dismiss, 12 total, drowning the Court in more than 900 pages of briefing.

In this odyssey of an Order, the Court first outlines the basic factual background and legal standard in Sections I and II. The Court then addresses Plaintiff's request to file his Fourth Amended Complaint in Section III. In Section IV, the Court discusses the Clean Water Act ("CWA") claims against Dalton Utilities and DWSWA, finding that Plaintiff has stated CWA claims against both defendants. The remaining claims are state law claims, brought on behalf of the putative class. In Section V, the Court discusses asserted defenses common to multiple defendants and/or multiple claims: specifically, the economic loss rule, the free public services doctrine, and the specific sovereign immunity asserted by Dalton Utilities and DWSWA. Then in Section VI, the Court analyzes the claim-specific defenses to the negligence, negligence per se , nuisance, and punitive damages claims. Finally, in Section VII, the Court addresses other miscellaneous issues including certain individual-defendant motions to dismiss that were filed separate and apart from the group motions.

For the reasons detailed at length below, the Court rules on the twelve...

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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • March 30, 2022
    ...ranges gave sufficient notice as to when the alleged violations were occurring for purposes of the CWA and RCRA. See Johnson v. 3M , 563 F.Supp.3d 1253, 1282 (N.D. Ga. 2021) (upholding a notice that "lists specific sampling locations and pinpoints actual dates as well as date ranges identif......
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    • June 30, 2023
    ......2021) (citing Nash v. Reed , 349 Ga.App. 381 (Ga.App. 2019);. Goldstein , 300 Ga. at 845 (explaining that. “negligence per se arises when a statute is. violated” along with certain other conditions). . . [ 64 ] Johnson v. 3m , 563. F.Supp.3d 1253, 1330 (N.D.Ga. 2021) (citing Wells Fargo. Bank, N.A. v. Jenkins , 293 Ga. 162 (Ga. 2013); Cent. Anesthesia Associates, P.C. v. Worthy , 333 S.E.2d at 833. (stating that a statute may create a duty recognized by law. requiring the actor to ......
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    ...[recently] held that there is no general legal duty 'to all the world not to subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm.'" Johnson, 563 F.Supp.3d at 1320 (quoting McConnell, 828 S.E.2d at 358 (alterations omitted). And it is Plaintiff's duty to allege the elements of negligence. Joyner ......
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