COLUMBUS, Ohio – A seven-member federal jury awarded $1.6 million to an Ohio woman who developed kidney cancer and claimed it was after drinking water contaminated with C8.
The jury found Oct. 7 that Carla Marie Bartlett's kidney cancer was contracted after being exposed to C8 discharged by DuPont's Washington Works facility in Parkersburg into the Ohio River and her drinking water.
The jury awarded Bartlett $1.1 million in damages due to DuPont's negligence, and $500,000 for emotional distress due to DuPont's conduct.
This verdict is the first of 3,500 cases claiming DuPont knowingly contaminated drinking water near the Parkersburg facility.
"DuPont’s conduct was egregious – dumping the chemical into community water sources with full knowledge that it would likely cause cancer and other diseases among the residents," said Harry Deitzler, an attorney with the Charleston law firm of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler. "Hopefully this verdict will send a message to DuPont and others who engage in similar conduct placing profits ahead of people."
Deitzler's firm, along with Rob Bilott of Taft Stettinius and Hollister and Larry Winter of Winter, Johnson and Hill filed the 2001 class action lawsuit that enabled the affected residents to seek compensation for their injuries.
For Bartlett's case, the three original firms were joined by Mike Papantonio of Levin Papantonio; Gary Douglas and Mike London of Douglas & London; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of Kennedy & Madonna.
Keep Your Promises DuPont released a statement congratulating Bartlett for holding DuPont accountable and stating that they hope the result of the trial gives everyone harmed by C8 renewed hope that DuPont will be forced to keep its promises to mid-Ohio Valley communities in the near future.
"We at Keep Your Promises are thrilled by the jury’s decision in this case," said Harold Brock, KYP's advisor. "While this verdict is just a small step in holding DuPont accountable, it serves to vindicate all those who have been fighting for DuPont to do the right thing, a fight that has lasted over a decade."
DuPont plans to appeal the verdict.
The litigation between DuPont and the plaintiffs began in 2001 in a class action lawsuit in Wood Circuit Court and that class action lawsuit ended in November 2004 when the parties entered into a class-wide settlement.
The litigation involved C8 that was discharged from DuPont's Parkersburg plant and the settlement agreement provided that if a science panel delivered a no probable link finding, the class members would be forever barred from bringing personal injury or wrongful death claims against DuPoint.
However, if the science panel found that it was "more likely than not that there is a link between C8 and a particular human disease among class members," the panel issued a probable link finding for that specific disease and DuPont waived its right to challenge whether it is probable that exposure to C-8 is capable of causing the linked disease.
The science panel did a six-year study of C8 and found a probable link between C8 exposure and a variety of illnesses, including high cholesterol, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as dangerously high blood pressure in pregnant women.
In the study, the science panel members also took a variety of other factors, such as family history and lifestyle choices, into account when determining if C8 is linked to disease.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio case number: 2:13-md-02433