Wolverine World Wide says it agreed to a $113 million settlement to address water contamination claims stemming from previous waste management practices at several of its Michigan facilities. Those costs will be partially offset by a $55 million contribution Wolverine is set to receive from 3M, whose chemicals were at the core of the legal claims.
Wolverine, a Rockford, Mich.-based footwear manufacturer, has been involved in dozens of lawsuits pertaining to claims its former use of 3M’s Scotchgard containing PFAS contaminated drinking water and damaged properties in parts of Michigan.
Last week, U.S. district judge Janet Nef approved a settlement agreement between Wolverine and the state of Michigan as well as two Kent County townships. The funds will go toward the extension of municipal water to more than 1,000 properties in Plainfield and Algoma townships. Wolverine, parent to Sperry, Saucony, Merrell and other brands, is also paying for ongoing testing and for water filters.
“We have been committed from the very beginning to being part of comprehensive water quality solutions for the community Wolverine has called home for nearly 140 years,” said Wolverine Worldwide president, chairman and CEO Blake Krueger in a statement:. “We are pleased the Court has approved this Consent Decree that provides a structure for our work to continue, and also pleased that 3M is contributing towards our efforts.” (Consent Decree refers to the settlement agreement reached by the parties involved in the litigation.)
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Wolverine has said that when it learned Scotchgard PFAS chemicals were discovered in area groundwater in 2017 it “acted quickly and voluntarily” to ensure “all affected residents had access to safe and reliable drinking water.” The firm also said it worked closely with environmental investigators at its House Street and former Tannery properties — “including drilling dozens of monitoring wells and collecting hundreds of soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water samples.”
Wolverine filed a 2018 suit against 3M, alleging that the chemical manufacturer concealed information about the environmental risks of its Scotchgard and other products. The suit was settled last week, resulting in 3M’s $55 million contribution to Wolverine’s water contamination solution efforts.