Letter to the Editor: Published report had C8 facts wrong

By The West Virginia Record | Jul 26, 2007

Dear Editor:

A news story published earlier this month in Parkersburg and Marietta regarding the Dupont C8 class action settlement in Wood Circuit Court erroneously confuses the settlement Science Panel finances, budget, and mission with the separate Brookmar, Inc. budgets and reports which have been timely filed with the court.

The story erroneously uses the two entities and their budgets interchangeably as though they are the same. They are not.

The Science Panel and Brookmar, Inc. are two entirely different entities doing two entirely different tasks with totally separate budgets. In that regard, the headline ("C8 science panel report part of public record") is also incorrect.

The Science Panel is entirely separate from Brookmar, and has never filed any public reports or accounting. Unrelated to the Science Panel, Brookmar, Inc. conducted the court approved settlement health project as an appropriate expenditure of the $70 million which was paid on behalf of the class.

The health project was described in detail in the settlement documents and endorsed (and approved) by the court.

The budget figures and filed reports which are described in the news story pertain only to Brookmar and the health project, not the Science Panel. The reports and budgets mentioned in the news story have nothing whatsoever to do with the Science Panel or its budget.

The Science Panel is totally separate from the Brookmar health project. The Science Panel was created by the settlement agreement, and has the mission to conduct a study to determine whether or not there is a probable link between C8 and human health.

The Science Panel has a budget of its own, independent of the $70 million which Brookmar used to conduct the health project for the class. The Science Panel consists of three credentialed epidemiologists who have an unlimited budget to conduct whatever tests or studies are necessary to accomplish their mission. They have no authority over the Brookmar $70 million health project and Brookmar has no authority over them.

By the terms of the settlement, Dupont is required to pay whatever it costs for the science panel to do its work. None of their work is included in the $70 million which was received for the class members and expended upon the Brookmar health project (a project which probably will be concluded sometime around the end of this summer).

Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward and some other persons have asked for disclosure of what the Science Panel is being paid, how much they have spent paying others, and what is the status of the Science Panel's work at this point. In that regard, at the last court hearing, I also suggested to the court that quarterly reports would be helpful. From what the judge said at the hearing, it sounds like he also thinks the public should be told what the Science Panel is doing.

In a few months, the Brookmar health project (not the Science Panel) will report data about the exposed population of settlement class members (or at least pertaining to the roughly 70,000 people who were tested), and will group the data so that scientists can study it and possibly reach conclusions about some aspects of C8 and human health.

It is possible, in fact likely, that non-scientists also may be able to draw conclusions to the extent that the data may be compelling as to some health issues (ie, absent independent circumstances, if a disease is significantly more prevalent in persons who were highly exposed to C8 than those who were minimally exposed, logic may lead to a conclusion regarding the probable link effect of C8 exposure).

The Science Panel will have (non-exclusive) access to the Brookmar data and may, or may not, reach the same logical conclusions that others do. That is why they are referred to as "independent". They are required to conduct their work "in private", meaning that they are not subject to the direction of either Dupont or the plaintiffs (or Brookmar, Inc.) with regard to the scientific manner in which they work.

Contrary to the published news story, the Science Panel has declined to publicly release what they are paid, how much money they are spending, what they are spending it on, or what they have (or have not) accomplished to date. Only Brookmar has disclosed such information, and none of the Brookmar information relates to the Science Panel.

Harry G. Deitzler
Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler PLLC

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