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Evers hires San Francisco law firm to handle PFAS suits

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FILE: The Navy's Blue Angels fly over French Island, where many private wells are contaminated with PFAS.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers has decided to hire a San Francisco-based law firm to handle potential lawsuits over PFAS pollution.

Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Wednesday that Sher Edling LLP has won a bidding process to serve as the state’s outside counsel for PFAS litigation.

State law allows the governor to hire outside attorneys rather than use state Justice Department lawyers if he feels the move would be cost-effective and serve the public interest.

Evers wrote in a letter to the state Department of Administration in January asking the agency to solicit bids that the Justice Department lacks the resources to prosecute “scientifically complex and resource intensive” PFAS cases on its own.

The DOA received 11 proposals. An evaluation panel made up of staffers from the Justice Department, the Department of Natural Resources and the DOA scored the submissions. Sher Edling LLP submitted the lowest bid among the finalists and won the contract. Under state law, the firm would be paid a percentage of whatever the state wins in litigation.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t easily break down in the environment. They have been used for decades in a range of products, including stain-resistant sprays and firefighting foam and have been an issue in communities across Wisconsin, with some of the worst pollution in Marinette and La Crosse.

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