Dupont and the Chemours Company have agreed to pay nearly $671 million to settle an Ohio multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving a chemical used to make Teflon. Dupont agreed to pay half of the settlement, although the company’s liability connected to Teflon was transferred to Chemours when the company was spun off from Dupont in 2015.
The Teflon MDL No. 2433, IN RE: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, before US District Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., in the Southern District of Ohio, involved about 3,550 personal injury lawsuits filed by people who were affected by the cancer-causing chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA or C-8.
“The lawsuits alleged that a leak from a Dupont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia contaminated local water supplies with C-8, causing Ohio and West Virginia residents who were exposed to contaminated water to develop six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers,” said Attorney Jay Pate of Heygood, Orr & Pearson.
Dupont began using C-8 in the 1950s. Animal testing in the 1960s confirmed the toxicity of the Teflon chemical. Later testing revealed that C-8 was present in the bodies of workers at the Dupont plant.
Dupont took part in an EPA program to phase out the use of C-8, and stopped using the chemical entirely in 2013. But because C-8 does not biodegrade once it enters the body, people who are exposed to the chemical may develop illnesses decades after they were first exposed.
Chemical Exposure Lawsuits
The first class action lawsuit against Dupont over the C-8 leak was filed by Parkersburg residents in 2001. In 2004, Dupont agreed to fund medical monitoring programs and to install water treatment systems in response to the litigation.
Dupont later convened a panel of scientists to decide whether C-8 was linked to an increased risk of illness. The panel determined that the chemical was probably linked to six different illnesses: high cholesterol, kidney cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and ulcerative colitis. Lawyers for Dupont later agreed that the company would not contest whether any of these illnesses were caused by exposure to C-8.
Some members of the class action also filed lawsuits individually against Dupont. Three verdicts in these cases against the chemical company resulted in total damages of $19.7 million, including a $5.1 million verdict against Dupont in July 2016.
The plaintiffs are represented by:
- Archie Lamb of The Lamb Firm LLC
- Harry Deitzler, James Peterson and R. Edison Hill of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler PLLC
- Larry Winter of Winter & Johnson PLLC
- Alicia Ellsayed, Gary Douglas and Rebecca Newman of Douglas & London PC
- Christopher Paulos, James M. Papantonio, Jeff Gaddy, Timothy O’Brien and Wesley Bowden of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor PA
- David Butler of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
- Shannon Pennock of The Pennock Law Firm
- The plaintiffs steering committee is led by Michael London of Douglas & London, Robert Bilott of Taft Stettinius & Hollister and Jon Conlin of Cory Watson PC.