DuPont to pay US$5.1 million in damages

Published:  07 July, 2016

Second payout for contamination with C8 chemicals.

A jury in Columbus, Ohio has found DuPont liable for a man’s testicular cancer.

During the trial David Freeman claimed that DuPont had knowingly dumped perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – also known as C8 – into the Ohio River.

Freeman lived in Little Hocking, Ohio, which was served by the largest rural water system in Washington County. Little Hocking Water Association last year settled its lawsuit against DuPont for polluting its well fields.

Freeman had alleged that DuPont was aware of the potential toxicity of C8 as early as 1954 and that its own researchers knew that it was toxic by at least 1961. Plaintiffs argued that the company didn’t inform the public of the hazards of C8 until 2012, when it was forced by regulators to fund a comprehensive study that found probable links between C8 exposure and certain kinds of cancer.

PFOA is a synthetic perfluorinated carboxylic acid and fluorosurfactant that was used in the manufacture of Teflon as well as aqueous film-forming fire fighting foams.

This is among the first lawsuits to go to trial from around 3,500 other personal-injury lawsuits set up in 2013 that allege DuPont dumped the chemical into the Ohio River from its Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Last year a jury awarded $1.6 million in compensatory damages to kidney-cancer survivor Carla Bartlett who sued over the contamination.

In contrast with Bartlett’s purely compensatory damages, DuPont is today (7 July) also facing punitive damages after the jury found actual malice in the latest verdict – the first of the DuPont C8 trials to result in such damages for the plaintiff.

Chemours’ shares dropped more than 22% following the verdict yesterday (6 July), and DuPont’s declined by 1.8%. While DuPont is the named defendant, a recent spin-off of its performance chemicals segment, Chemours, will cover its liability. Chemours said that it will appeal the verdict.

The verdict has been welcomed by Keep Your Promises, a community-based organisation that is dedicated to holding DuPont to the promises it made to the people of the Greater Mid-Ohio Valley in connection with the C8 contamination.

KYP advisor Harold Bock commented: “We were in the courtroom watching the proceedings throughout the trial, and based on the evidence we saw presented, which detailed DuPont’s decades long cover up of the harms of C8 and the extent of contamination, we were certain that punitive damages would be awarded. This verdict vindicates all of us who have been fighting for DuPont to do the right thing, a fight that has lasted over a decade.

“Today’s verdict puts a spotlight on DuPont’s negligence and conscious disregard for the people of the mid-Ohio Valley. This verdict means that help is on the way for the thousands of residents waiting for their day in court, the dozens of communities in need of remediation, and the folks in the mid-Ohio Valley struggling to use the medical monitoring programme that has been mishandled by DuPont. To the extent that this is a signal of verdicts to come, this verdict alone will make the cost of DuPont’s C8 abuse skyrocket into billions of dollars, which so many residents and communities sorely need.”

From April 2017 the process to try a further 260 cancer suits will begin. These will be tried at the rate of 40 per year and judges are currently being recruited to try them in federal courthouses in Columbus, St. Clairsville, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia.

Over the last few years there have been increasing concerns by regulatory authorities over the environmental and human health impact of releasing PFOA – and longer chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) – to the environment based on unacceptable PBT (persistent, bio-accumulative, toxic) profiling.

This led first to the voluntary PFOA Stewardship Program 2010/2015 by the US Environment Protection Agency and, more recently, to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) PFOA Restriction Proposal initiated by the German and Norwegian governments.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Waterax - We move water

Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments.

Big Water Flow for Industrial and Municipal Firefighting Applications

Protecting the lives of the public and firefighters while limiting the structural damage caused in large scale fires is our primary mission

We are committed to improving lives and doing business in the right way

We have a unique mix of capability and culture that we refer to as 3M Science and we strive to develop products that improve people’s daily lives in a multitude of ways.

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.