Republican Lawmakers Question Structure of 3M Settlement

March 05, 2018 06:51 PM

Republican lawmakers are questioning the structure of a multimillion dollar settlement between the state of Minnesota and 3M Co.

3M agreed to pay the state of Minnesota $850 million last month, resolving a massive lawsuit alleging damages to natural resources and groundwater in the Twin Cities' east metro.

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RELATED: Minnesota DNR, Pollution Control Agency Start Talks With Cities About 3M Settlement

State agencies will use the money to improve and safeguard drinking water.

House Republicans argued Monday that the settlement was designed to prevent the Legislature from having a say in how those funds are used.

Rep. Jim Knoblach says new legislation may be needed to "make sure the money goes to the people it needs to go to."    

The state initially sought $5 billion from the Maplewood-based company, alleging that chemicals used to make Scotchgard and other products seeped into the groundwater at four east metro disposal sites.

RELATED: State Looks at How to Use Money From 3M Settlement

Lawmakers also questioned why a private law firm received $125 million from the $850 million settlement.

"They were earning $48,000 dollars per day in legal fees for representing the state even though we have 200 and some attorneys in the AG's office," Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said at a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, defended the costs, saying it was a complex case that involved 27 million documents.

RELATED: 3M Settles with State for $850M in PFC Lawsuit

"There were over 200 witness depositions, 10 million dollars in tests, fees and costs, and over 100 judicial hearings and conferences over seven years," Hilstrom said.

A spokesman for Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said the Legislature approved the legal contract in 2010.

Republicans complained that no one from the attorney general's office showed up to testify about the settlement. Spokesman Ben Wogsland said there was miscommunication about the hearing, and that they'd be willing to testify at a future hearing.



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