A federal jury in Ohio has ordered DuPont to pay an additional $10.5 million in punitive damages to punish the company for the release of chemicals into the local water supply from a West Virginia plant, after awarding $2 million in compensatory damages last week to a man who alleged that exposure to C-8 caused him develop testicular cancer.
DuPont faces roughly 3,500 lawsuits brought by individuals who lived around it’s Washington Works Plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, alleging that they suffered various injuries due to water contamination caused by the release of C-8, which is a chemical used to manufacture products like Teflon and Gore-Tex.
In the third “bellwether” case to go to trial, a jury awarded $2 million in compensatory damages in late December, in a case brought by Kenneth Vigneron. Following a second phase of the trial that concluded this week, the same jury ordered DuPont to pay an additional $10.5 million in punitive damages, after finding that the company acted maliciously.
The case was being closely watched, as it may help gauge how juries will respond to similar evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout the litigation. The verdict also comes after separate juries awarded $1.6 million and $5.6 million in damages following two earlier bellwether trials.
Each of the plaintiffs pursuing DuPont C-8 exposure lawsuit raise similar allegations, indicating that the company knew for years that chemicals released from the plant posed serious health problems for area residents, including a risk of cancer, birth defects and other complications. Plaintiffs maintain that DuPont did little to prevent numerous spills and releases into the environment.
DuPont C-8 Health Problems
DuPont C-8 is a toxic, cancer-causing agent that stays in the environment indefinitely; never breaking down, according to allegations in the lawsuits filed by area residents.
Studies have linked C-8 exposure to kidney disease, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, testicular cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and increases in cholesterol.
Lawsuits filed by residents allege that they were affected by the contamination of their water supply. The lawsuits claim the company knew C-8 was toxic since at least 1961, but failed to take adequate steps to prevent water contamination or to warn workers or nearby residents of the health risks.
In the wake of a 2005 class action lawsuit brought by residents against Du Pont, a panel of independent epidemiologists was assigned to look at the dangers of C-8. In a study released in July, they confirmed many of the ailments linked to exposure. The study looked at 70,000 residents who were exposed to the chemical via their drinking water.