DuPont was ordered to pay $2 million in damages on Wednesday, to compensate a man who developed testicular cancer after exposure to chemicals that were released into the waters of West Virginia and Ohio from one of the company’s plants.
Additional damages may still be awarded in the DuPont C-8 exposure lawsuit, as the federal jury in an Ohio found that the company acted with malice, opening the door for punitive damages in the next phase of the trial.
The case was filed by Kenneth Vigneron, who alleged that he developed testicular cancer after drinking water in Washington County, Ohio, which he maintains was contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is also known as C-8.
Vigneron is one of about 3,500 individuals residents around DuPont’s Washington Works Plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia who are pursuing a lawsuit over C-8 exposure against DuPont. Plaintiffs allege that they suffered various injuries due to the release of C-8, which is a chemical used to manufacture products like Teflon and Gore-Tex.
Plaintiffs claim that DuPont knew for years that C8 from the plant posed serious health problems for area residents, including a risk of cancer, birth defects and other complications. The company also allegedly did little to prevent numerous spills and releases into the environment, the lawsuits claim.
Since November 2013, all complaints filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of West Virginia.
This was the third DuPont C8 case to go to trial. The first, a lawsuit filed by Carla Bartlett, resulted in a $1.6 million verdict for the plaintiff. The second trial was another testicular cancer claim by David Freeman. In July, an Ohio jury awarded Freeman $5.6 million, which included $500,000 in punitive damages.
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.
The lawsuits claim the company went as far as covering up the side effects of C-8 and lying to residents and health officials.
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.