PARKERSBURG – Four personal injury lawsuits have been filed in Parkersburg federal court against DuPont over a chemical known as “C8” that was released by its Washington Works Plant in Wood County.

On Oct. 22, lawsuits were filed by David Freeman, Brian Lowers, Clair Mont McCoy and David Wilcoxen. The plaintiffs are represented by Aaron L. Harrah and Harry G. Deitzler of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler in Charleston.

The firm engineered a 2005 settlement that established both a medical panel and science panel to probe the effects of C8.

The Science Panel determined that C8 exposure could lead to kidney cancer, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

The four new lawsuits allege the plaintiffs suffer from at least one of those diseases.

“Defendant failed to exercise ordinary care in the operation and/or management of the Plant and/or the conduction of operations and activities at the Plant in such a manner as to negligently cause, permit and/or allow the Releases, thereby contaminating the drinking water and blood/body of Plaintiff, and also by knowingly making false representations to and/or knowingly concealing material information from Plaintiff, other exposed individuals, and the general public regarding the Releases, the contaminated drinking water, and Plaintiff’s harmful exposure to C8,” the complaints say.

A multidistrict litigation proceeding has been created to process the personal injury claims. Judge Edmund Sargus of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus is overseeing the MDL.

A search of court records shows 46 lawsuits in the MDL. The four filed Oct. 22 will make it an even 50 when they are transferred.

Charleston attorney Kathy Brown, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of some claimants, said the first trial is scheduled to begin in September 15. She added that Sargus is scheduling monthly status conferences for the MDL.

Brown, working with the Alabama firm Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris, filed the first C8 personal injury lawsuits in October 2012 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 firm wrote.

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.

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 C8 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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