Foundation admits making error in 'Hellhole' report

By The West Virginia Record | Dec 15, 2005

After initially citing West Virginia as one of a handful of states where a lawsuit concerning chemical exposure was filed, the American Tort Reform Foundation admitted they had made a mistake.

The case mentioned in the group's annual list of Judicial Hellholes for 2005 in involved two Florida law firms filing class action lawsuits involving Teflon against DuPont. The suits claim a chemical used to make Teflon is dangerous and that DuPont didn't adequately warn consumers of the risk even though there is no evidence that the chemical is harmful when used in cookware.

However, after the group learned the suits had not been filed in West Virginia, officials modified the report to take out the Teflon case.

Wednesday evening, the foundation made the correction to the report on its Web site.

"While we regret and apologize for the error, this does not affect the ranking of West Virginia as the third worst Judicial Hellhole," the correction said.

Victor Schwartz, a lawyer and a spokesman for the ATRF, said researchers might have confused the Teflon case with a class action suit against DuPont on behalf of thousands of Parkersburg-area residents.

DuPont agreed to settle that class action suit by residents near its Washington Works plant in Parkersburg who claimed the chemical made its way into the water supply and could be a health threat. A Wood County judge approved the $70 million settlement in February. The settlement also includes a potential $235 million for a medical monitoring program for residents.

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