Jury selection began this week in Ohio for the first trial of a DuPont C-8 lawsuit, alleging that exposure to the controversial chemical released from a West Virginia plant caused area residents to develop severe health problems.
The case was brought by 59 year old Carla Bartlett, who alleges that C-8 contaminated local water supplies before 2004, causing her to suffer kidney cancer.
Barlett is one of about 3,500 individuals pursuing a DuPont C-8 exposure lawsuit against the chemical manufacturer.
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. The chemical is used to manufacture products like Teflon and Gore-Tex.
Plaintiffs claim that DuPont knew for years that C8 from the plant posed a serious risk, which could cause birth defects and other health problems for area residents. The company also knew and 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.
Bartlett’s claim is the first to go to trial, with a second trial scheduled to begin in November. While the outcomes of the cases will not be binding on other claims in the litigation, they are being closely watched by lawyers involved in the lawsuits, as they may influence eventual settlement negotiations.
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.