Ohio man alleges ulcerative colitis caused by DuPont's Wood Co. plant

By John O'Brien | Dec 4, 2013

PARKERSBURG – An Ohio man has filed a personal injury lawsuit over DuPont’s alleged release of a chemical known as “C8” into the water system surrounding its Washington Works plant in Ohio County.

William Waldo Hill, 75 and of Belpre, Ohio, filed the lawsuit on Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Parkersburg.

The complaint says Hill lived in Little Hocking, Ohio, from 1985-2004 and now suffers from ulcerative colitis, which is one of the diseases a panel established by a prior settlement with DuPont has linked to C8 exposure.

Complaints like Hill’s are being transferred to a multidistrict litigation proceeding in federal court in Columbus, Ohio.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys at 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.

Judge Edmund Sargus of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus is overseeing the MDL.

Charleston attorney Kathy Brown, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of some claimants, said the first trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 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.

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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