PARKERSBURG – A Charleston attorney has filed three personal injury lawsuits against DuPont on behalf of individuals who lived in Wood County and its surrounding areas following a Science Panel study that established probable links between cancer and other illnesses after exposure to the chemical C8.Kathy A. Brown is working with the Alabama firm of Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris, P.C., which is known for handling similar multi-plaintiff and personal injury suits.
“This is an off-shoot of the class action lawsuit filed in Parkersburg in 2001 that settled in 2005,” Brown said. “The Science Panel’s findings are the basis for these personal injury lawsuits. They’re separate from the class action lawsuit.”
Brown said there are only three complaints so far, but she expects there to be several more.
“There is no way of knowing right now how many there will be,” Brown said. “The class contains 80,000 people and since I began advertising in Parkersburg in September, I’ve received hundreds of phone calls.”
The three complaints were filed Oct. 19 in Wood Circuit Court and each have been assigned to a separate Wood circuit judge, Brown said.
One of the plaintiffs, Virginia Morrison, filed on behalf of her husband, who died of injuries related to kidney cancer in 2008.
“We lived in DuPont for years,” Morrison said. “Only this year did we find out that the water we were drinking may have made my husband sick.”
The two other lawsuits claim injuries involving thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.
Exposure to C8 has been determined as a probable link to each of the serious and life-altering medical conditions.
A class-action suit was filed previously against DuPont related to medical monitoring and a Science Panel was formed to study the effects of C8 on humans and find whether it causes certain diseases.
The Science Panel is scheduled to release further findings on Oct. 29, which are expected to be the final findings of the panel.
“Potentially, there can be more diseases linked to exposure from C8,” Brown said. “We won’t know until the Science Panel releases further findings on Oct. 29.”
Between Dec. 5, 2011, and July 30, the Science Panel established probable links between C8 exposure and kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
“This is entirely different from the earlier class-action lawsuit,” Brown said. “This is so different that these personal injury claims were specifically separated and carved out from the class-action seven years ago.”
Brown said the lawsuits are for people who have had one of the reported diseases and are seeking justice.
“My co-counsel and I are continuing to screen cases and talk to people throughout the area about their injuries and what remedies they may have,” Brown said.
J.C. Conlin, the lead attorney handing the matter on behalf of Cory Watson, said the firm is happy that Brown brought the injuries to their attention.
“We previously worked with her on similar multi-plaintiff litigations and found that she is both an effective trial lawyer and a strong advocate for injured people and families,” Conlin said.
People who lived along the Ohio River near the DuPont plant in Washington, W.Va., until December 2004 are at a high risk of personal injury because of the prolonged exposure caused by the C8 release into the air and water.
Based on a previous settlement agreement entered into by DuPont, people may be eligible to pursue individual personal injury claims for compensation if they lived in that area and regularly drank water from any of the following systems: Little Hocking, Ohio; Lubeck Public Service District, W.Va.; City of Belpre, Ohio; Mason County Public Service District, W.Va.; Tuppers Plains, Ohio; and Village of Pomeroy, Ohio.
Conlin said where you now live does not matter if you were exposed to the potentially contaminated water from any of those areas for at least one year prior to Dec. 3, 2004.
“If you did live there and you have suffered or are suffering from any of the conditions which the Science Panel has linked to C8, you should contact a lawyer to explore your rights,” Conlin said.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuits, Morrison, Sandra Tennant and Scott Blackwell, are seeking a judgment against Du Pont that it is liable to them in an amount to be determined at trial and compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest.
Brown and Conlin will be holding town hall meetings on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 to give more information to residents about their legal rights.
The four scheduled meetings are Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. in Point Pleasant, W.Va., at the Lowe Hotel on Main Street; Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. in Pomeroy, Ohio, at the Riverside Golf Club; Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. at the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department on Stone Road; and Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department on Harris Highway.
For more information, visit www.kathybrownlaw.com.