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DuPont C8 Injury Lawsuits Move Forward in MDL

DuPont now faces dozens of lawsuits from Mid-Ohio Valley residents that the company dumped C8 in the water supply, increasing the risk of kidney cancer for those that consumed the contaminated water.  

According to a recent list of pending cases (PDF) released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation(JPML) , there are at least 46 complaints pending in the federal court system involving problems from C8 exposure, which have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

All of the DuPont C8 exposure lawsuits are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus to prevent duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts. The complaints all involve similar claims that residents around DuPont’s Washington Works Plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia were injured by the releases of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C-8 or C8, prior to 2004. The chemical is used to manufacture products like Teflon and Gore-Tex.

An in-person status conference was held before Judge Sargus on October 23, where the progress was discussed for the litigation brought on behalf of individuals who have developed kidney cancer and other injuries allegedly caused by DuPont C8.

According to a Pretrial Order (PDF) issued following the conference, DuPont must respond to certain written discovery requests by December 1, 2013, and product certain requested documents on a rolling basis over the next few months, with completion of the production by February 14, 2014.

In another Order (PDF) issued November 1, a stipulation between the parties was entered by the Court regarding the appointment of a Mediator for purposes of helping the parties reach a potential settlement agreement over the DuPont C8 water contamination.

A follow up telephone conference is next scheduled for November 15, with the next in-person meeting scheduled for December 11, 2013.

DuPont C8 Litigation over Kidney Cancer, Other Injuries

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. In a complaint (PDF) filed by Sheila Lowther on October 8, the plaintiff alleges that DuPont recklessly allowed C-8 to be released from the Washington plant into human drinking water supplies, causing her to be diagnosed with kidney cancer, thyroid disease and other injuries.

The lawsuits claim the company knew C-8 was toxic since at least 1961 and by 1976 organic flourine samples were being found in human blood in U.S. blood banks, which researchers believed was due to C-8 exposure. Two years later the company found organic flourine samples in workers at the plant. By 1980 DuPont had confirmed internally that C-8 was toxic and that it accumulated in the human body, resulting in negative health effects, according to the lawsuit.

The company allegedly started secretly collecting samples of tap water near the plant in 1984, after male workers at the plant who had been exposed started to complain that their wives were having trouble conceiving children.

“Despite DuPont’s knowledge of the potential toxicity of C-8, including potential carcinogenicity, DuPont continued throughout the rest of the 1980s and into at least the early 2000s to increase its use of C-8 at the Plant and to increase the amount of C-8 wastes it discharged into the air from the Plant, directly into the Ohio River from the Plant, and into unlined non-hazardous waste landfills in the vicinity of the Plant and local drinking water wells, which DuPont knew would result in the continuing and increasing release of C-8 into the underlying water table and nearby surface waters,” the Lowther complaint claims.

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.

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