New batch of C-8 lawsuits being filed

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 19, 2014

PARKERSBURG – More than 300 C-8 lawsuits have been filed against DuPont in the last week, and more are coming.

The 304 complaints, filed by attorney Harry Deitzler, are related to the ongoing litigation against DuPont by people whose drinking water was contaminated with C-8 from releases at DuPont’s Washington Works plant in Wood County. The newest cases are being filed in Wood Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs in the cases seek compensatory and punitive damages, costs and other damages for injury arising from the actions of DuPont regarding the water contamination. Each of them are members of the original class action (filed in 2001) of about 80,000 residents who were part of a $71 million settlement that provides money for a health and education project to benefit the class members. It also provided money for state-of-the-art water treatment technology in the affected areas.

DuPont also paid $30 million for a health study on the effects of C-8, which is a key ingredient in Teflon, clothing and other products. Studies have indicated a link between C-8 exposure and diseases such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid disease.

According to the newly filed complaints, the individual plaintiffs each suffer from a disease named by the “C8 Science Panel” -- jointly selected by DuPont and the plaintiffs’ class counsel and funded by DuPont --  as one linked to C-8 exposure. Those diseases include kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia and medically-diagnosed high cholesterol. The plaintiffs are able to file these complaints based on terms of the class-action settlement approved in 2005.

The complaints – each about 50 pages – accuse DuPont of negligence; concealment; misrepresentation; fraud; strict liability; defective product; failure to warn; conspiracy; unfair and deceptive practices; negligence per se and prima facie negligence; past and continuing trespass and battery; and negligent, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress and outrage. They also seek compensatory and punitive damages, court costs, pre- and post-judgment interests and other relief.

Deitzler -- a partner in the Charleston law firm of Hill Carper Peterson Bee & Deitzler – said he expects to file about 1,000 cases in Wood Circuit Court right now. But the total might eventually reach about 2,800. And those would just be the cases filed by him and his firm.

DuPont has yet to return messages seeking comment, but the company previously has said such lawsuits ignore family histories, lifestyle choices and other causes of health issues and disease.

“It is beyond disingenuous for DuPont’s Wilmington management to blame the people in the Parkersburg community for their own illnesses,” Deitzler said, referring to previous responses from DuPont regarding such litigation. “Because of our lawsuit, DuPont was forced to fund a comprehensive medical study by some of the best scientists in the world.

“That study consisted of virtually the entire affected population -- almost 70,000 of the exposed residents participated. The scientists’ review included not only medical histories, but also lifestyle choices and every known related cause of human health issues and disease.

“Based on those complete medical histories and exhaustive blood testing of the exposed individuals, the scientists conclusively linked six human diseases in this population directly to C-8 exposure.”

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