Kyla Asbury Nov. 1, 2012, 9:07am
PARKERSBURG – The litigants in the West Virginia and Ohio class action lawsuit filed the science panel’s final set of reports on Oct. 29 that conclusively link DuPont’s PFOA in drinking water to serious human diseases.
The panel previously reported links with kidney cancer, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-inducted hypertension, including preeclampsia.
In its final report, the science panel added hypercholesterolemia to the list.
The panel’s work is now completed and for the purposes of the pending class action lawsuit, any diseases that the panel has not linked to C8 cannot be the subject of PFOA-based exposure claims by the lawsuit’s class members.
The class action suit was filed against DuPont related to medical monitoring and the science panel was formed to study the effects of C8 on humans and find whether it causes certain diseases.
“The panel’s combined reports leave no doubt that the past levels of C8 in drinking water has caused serious disease among many local residents,” said Harry Deitzler of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler. “The significant probable link findings are a sad indictment of DuPont’s corporate credibility in the community, particularly in light of the company’s longstanding claims that C8 contamination of drinking water would have no adverse impact on humans.”
Deitzler said the law firm’s immediate next step will be to move forward with the medical monitoring component of the court-approved settlement agreement.
“Through that process, we hope to ensure that every patient’s doctor can identify each linked disease before it is too late to begin effective treatment,” Deitzler said.
Affected residents who meet the class definition will be entitled to medical testing at DuPont’s expense.
“As attorneys for the class members, we are proud to have uncovered the truth and forced the company to remove the poison from the water,” Deitzler said. “Unfortunately, we cannot change the fact that DuPont’s actions have already caused diseases to occur unnecessarily among class members in the six affected water districts, nor the fact that DuPont’s conduct will certainly cause additional diseases to occur among class members in the future.”
The testing, which is referred to in the class actions suit as medical monitoring, will allow doctors to conduct procedures to identify PFOA-linked diseases in the population, which can result in earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment for the affected individuals.
Class members who suffer from linked diseases are also permitted to move forward with personal injury or related wrongful death claims against DuPont that arise from DuPont’s discharging the known carcinogen into the drinking water.
As part of the 2005 class action settlement, DuPont agreed it would not dispute that PFOA can cause diseases the C8 Science Panel linked to PFOA exposure.
Deitzler said DuPont’s statement that all the diseases are caused by family history and lifestyle choices, instead of C8 exposure ignores scientific data.
“DuPont’s statement ignores the undisputed scientific fact that the science panelists took into account all external factors, including family history and lifestyle choices when it concluded that C8 exposure caused serious adverse health consequences,” Deitzler said.
Wood Circuit Court approved the appointment of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler; Taft Stettinius & Hollister; and Winter & Johnson as counsel for the class members in 2005. The court-approved attorneys continue to represent class members on class-wide claims.
In addition, the attorneys are representing several thousand individual class members who have contracted with them to potentially seek compensation for linked diseases.
DuPont is obligated to continue to find the state-of-the-art water treatment systems that were installed as a condition of the 2005 settlement to reduce PFOA levels in the impacted public and private drinking water supplies, based on the combined probable link findings.
The C8 Science Panel was charged with independently and comprehensively evaluating all of the available scientific data relating to PFOA to determine whether it was more likely than not that PFOA exposure was linked to serious human disease. To qualify for membership on the panel, the panelists had to be well-qualified epidemiologists who were independent of either side to the lawsuit.
The panel’s reports were filed in Wood Circuit Court in Parkersburg and are available online at www.hpcbd.com/c8probablelink.html.