Last spring, DuPont said they would appeal the decision that would pay two plaintiffs $50 million for exposure to the chemical C8. The chemical that is referred to as C8 is more recognizable as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid.
That appeal was denied as 2020 drew to a close.
Basis of Appeal
The judge in the case according to DuPont was “impermissibly coercive.” From Bloomberg Law, “After the end of the five-week trial, the judge called the disagreeing jurors into the courtroom and gave instructions, upheld by a court of appeals, directing them to try to come to an agreement. He added at the end of his instructions: ‘But remember, too, that if this case had to be tried again, it would be at great expense and great emotional harm to all the parties in this case, defense and the plaintiff.”
However, Bloomberg Law goes on to report, “The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio…denied DuPont’s request to declare a mistrial after a jury in March sided with cancer survivor Travis Abbott and his wife, Julie, awarding them damages for exposure to a type of PFAS the company produced at a facility along the Ohio River.”
PFOA/C8 Cases in Parkersburg WVA
This is part of a series of lawsuits from Ohio and West Virginia residents who say DuPont’s manufacturing facility near Parkersburg, W.Va., contaminated their water. The public became aware of the PFAS issue in the Parkersburg area in the movie Dark Waters based on the book “Exposure” by Lawyer, Robert Bilott.
There is a lengthy article from about five years ago in the New York Times Magazine that details the work by Robert Bilott, “The Lawyer who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.”
In 2017, DuPont reached a $670.7 million settlement to end more than 3,000 cases from individuals alleging they became sick from exposure to C-8/PFOA from the same facility.
Writing about the contamination in Parkersburg, Environmental Health News wrote, “A science panel, comprised of public health scientists appointed by DuPont and lawyers representing the community, was convened to examine the immense database. In 2012, after seven years of study, the panel released a report documenting a probable link between C8 and six conditions: testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and high cholesterol.”
Additional cases from the C-8 litigation were set for trial earlier this year, but the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed them. Hundreds of other cases are consolidated in multidistrict litigation in South Carolina, focused on types of PFAS present in firefighting foam.
For more information on the case see Abbott v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
PFAS Litigation Emerging Trend
As we mentioned in our December 11, 2020, blog, “A September 2020 article in Insurance Journal stated that according to Preadicat, a Los Angeles-based liability risk analytics company, the top emerging litigation risk identified for the year ahead is PFAS.”
There are many moving parts with respect to understanding the effect of PFAS chemicals on human health and the environment (there are more than 5,000 PFAS chemicals). Work continues on the federal level on development of analytical methods and development of maximum contaminant levels for drinking water. See “Status of Research and Development on PFAS” by the USEPA.
We continue to update our PFAS Resources Page as well.
PFAS Technical Advice
If you have questions about technical aspects of PFAS including sampling, delineation, remediation, and overall strategies and considerations relating to PFAS, contact Jeffrey Bolin, M.S., CHMM or Matthew Schroeder, M.S., P.E. at 248-932-0228.
Sign up for our monthly environmental newsletters.
Principled Foundation | Thoughtful Advice | Smart Solutions