COLUMBUS, Ohio – The first trial from a group of personal injury lawsuits filed against DuPont involving its Wood County plant is scheduled to begin in September 2015.

Charleston attorney Kathy Brown says U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus, of the Southern District of Ohio, has also scheduled a second trial to begin in November 2015. Sargus is presiding over a multidistrict litigation proceeding that currently has 46 personal injury lawsuits against DuPont.

The lawsuits allege injuries caused by water from the company’s Washington Works Plant near Parkersburg that is contaminated with a chemical known as C8.

Of the 46 lawsuits, nine were filed in West Virginia.

“With the volume of plaintiffs, a complex case nature and the extensive amount of discovery needed, the time frame we are working in is as close to ‘fast track’ as one can get,’” Brown wrote on her website Aug. 8.

“Judge Sargus also stated in a new court document that all parties involved continue to work together on all relevant issues – including plaintiff fact sheets, a representative pool of plaintiffs and the experts that will be needed to comment on the scope of the C8 contamination.”

Sargus is scheduling monthly status conferences for the MDL.

Also scheduled are two C8 town hall meetings. Brown says the first will be 7 p.m. at the Mason County Main Library in Point Pleasant, and the second will be 7 p.m. at the Mulberry Community Center in Pomeroy, Ohio.

The lawsuits allege the plaintiffs suffered from one or more of six diseases that have been potentially linked to C8 exposure by a study conducted as part of a 2005 settlement.

That settlement was the result of a 2001 class action filed by the Charleston firm Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler. The study linked C8 exposure with kidney cancer, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

Brown, working with the Alabama firm Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris, filed the first C8 personal injury lawsuits in October in Wood Circuit Court.

The Alabama firm had lobbied for the cases to be consolidated in the Ohio court, arguing Charleston’s federal court is too busy. It already has five MDLs assigned to Chief Judge Joseph Goodwin, including a transvaginal mesh MDL that, as of February, was home to more than 11,000 cases.

The order creating the MDL noted that 80,000 people live in the six water districts allegedly contaminated with C8.

In May, the C8 Medical Panel, which was also created as a result of the 2005 settlement engineered by the Hill firm, released its recommended medical monitoring protocols.

The value figure attached to the settlement was $107.6 million, with $72 million funding the C8 Health Project.

Charleston attorney Harry Deitzler – of the firm Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler – said the medical monitoring protocols are the first phase of recommended medical screening and testing.

The C8 Medical Panel also mentioned plans to create educational materials that will help inform class members about the benefits and harms of screening, Deitzler said.

Affected residents who meet the class definition will be entitled to medical testing at DuPont’s expense.

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 C8 can cause diseases the C8 Science Panel linked to C8 exposure.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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