In February of 2017, DuPont reached terms on a $670.7 million settlement
in resolution of 3,550 personal injury lawsuits by plaintiffs in Ohio
and West Virginia. Chemours, a spin-off company of DuPont in 2015, is
responsible to pay for half of the total settlement amount.
The large settlement is a culmination of over 3,550 pending personal injury
lawsuits in Ohio and West Virginia. The plaintiffs, also residents of
Ohio and West Virginia, alleged that they became sick from water that
was contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or "C-8",
which was released from a former DuPont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
This chemical is used to make items like Teflon non-stick pans, water
repellent products such as water-proof jackets, and grease repellent products
including microwavable popcorn bags. These chemical were used at the Parkersburg
facility since the 1950s.
In 2001, the first lawsuits sprouted up against DuPont over purported issues
due to exposure to C-8 from the local drinking water. In 2004, DuPont
agreed to fund medical monitoring programs and install new water treatment
systems for its plant in Parkersburg, WV. It empaneled a group of scientists
to study the link between C-8 and relevant diseases. The panel concluded
that there was a probable link between C-8 and the following illnesses:
kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced
hypertension and high cholesterol.
In 2005, the EPA levied a penalty against DuPont for purportedly hiding
information regarding C-8 and its impact on the communities surrounding
the plant. In 2006, DuPont, along with other companies such as 3M, decided
to phase out the use of C-8 in the production of its products and eliminated
the use of C-8 in their products.
Of the 3,550 PFOA injury cases, seven have gone to trial. Of those seven,
three settled for an undisclosed amount, three resulted in jury awards
for plaintiffs totaling approximately $20 million, and the most recent
verdict, decided in January 2017, resulted in a verdict of $12.5 million.
The pending class action settlement agreement for $670.7 million is currently
waiting the approval by the plaintiffs of the remaining 3,550 injury cases.