DuPont has lost another trial over claims that exposure to a chemical used to make Teflon led to cancer, with a jury ordering the company to pay $5.6 million in damages to an Ohio man diagnosed with testicular cancer.
A federal jury in Ohio ruled last week that DuPont was negligent and acted with malice when it allowed chemical leaks of C-8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), from a West Virginia plant into local waterways. After initially awarding $5.1 million in compensatory damages to David Freeman, the jury added another $500,000 in punitive damages late last week, which was meant to punish DuPont for reckless disregard for public safety.
Freeman 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.
Freeman’s case is the second to go to trial and the second victory for plaintiffs. In October, a jury awarded $1.6 million to Carla Bartlett, who developed kidney cancer after being exposed to the contaminated water.
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.
DuPont has said it intends to appeal the verdict in the Freeman lawsuit.