Personal injury lawyers are naming DuPont as defendant in more than 2,500 personal-injury lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus. These suits claim the company is responsible for one or more of the six medical conditions linked to C-8 exposure that have occurred among residents who live in the area around the WV plant on both sides of the Ohio River. Little Hocking Water Association is getting closer to a possible multi-million-dollar payout from DuPont for chemical contamination of its wells, including some in eastern Athens County.
“For the first time a court has held DuPont liable for pollution from C-8,” confirmed David Altman, an for the water district. The LHWA is based in Little Hocking and serves customers in Athens and Washington counties, Ohio.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley ruled in favor of LHWA’s allegation that DuPont is responsible for the C-8 found in the drinking water of the district’s 12,000 residents. LHWA’s wells are located just across the Ohio River from a DuPont Teflon plant in Washington, West Virginia (very near the site of the proposed massive cracker plant complex being proposed by a Brazilian company).
The U.S. EPA has classified C-8 as a “likely carcinogen.” And a study of people near the plant who were exposed to the chemical found links to several diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer.
The judge’s decision gives LHWA an important legal victory but it does not end the five-year-old case. That will happen only after it goes to trial for a determination of the amount of damages.
Altman – who focuses on environmental law – explained that he must now prove the amount suffered by the district. The damages likely will include the cost of cleaning up the wells.
He would not speculate on how much that is but did say the suit is “seeking a substantial amount of money.”
It is not clear when the judge will set a trial date. Additional depositions and legal briefs are needed, according to Altman.
Asked for comment on the case, Dan Turner of DuPont corporate media relations replied, “We do not comment on pending litigation.”
The LHWA sued DuPont in 2009 after discovering its wells were tainted with C-8. The company had used the chemical to make Teflon but stopped.
In 2008, DuPont installed filters to remove C-8 from the drinking water but the non-profit water association was concerned that it was still present in the aquifer.