The settlement was preceded by three previous trials brought against DuPont and which had awarded damages to plaintiffs who alleged because of the decades of dumping C8 into the air and water around the plant, DuPont’s actions had resulted in clusters of cancer in six Ohio water districts. DuPont and Chemours, which now owns the plant in West Virginia, each agreed to pay $335.35 million in cash to resolve its obligations concerning about 3,500 total claims.
The first cases were brought in 2001, with allegations DuPont contaminated the drinking supply of 70,000 people in and around the Ohio River where the DuPont plant was situated. The company has already paid or committed to pay $350 million for water filtration systems in the affected communities, health data collection for the class and health studies, the statement said.
Further, Chemours has agreed to pay the initial $25 million of future PFOA costs not covered by the settlement annually for the next five years. DuPont will cover additional amounts up to $25 million, according to the company statement.
DuPont was facing a total of $19.7 million in liability. The first bellwether trial involving plaintiff Carla Bartlett, settled in October 2015 with an award of $1.6 million in compensatory damages. The second bellwether case was brought by plaintiff David Freeman and saw a $5.1 million award in compensation plus a $500,000 punitive award.
Kenneth Vigneron was the plaintiff in the third case. He received $2 million in compensatory damages in December, followed by the a further $10.5 million in punitive damages awarded by the jury. Vigneron’s case alleged that his testicular cancer resulted from exposure to the chemicals DuPont dumped into the water.
According to a statement from a law firm representing the plaintiffs, “The really sad part of this whole mess is that it would have cost DuPont almost nothing to properly dispose of the C8 waste in a safe manner instead of irresponsibly dumping it in the river, pumping it into the ground, and spewing it up into the air. 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,” the firm said. Notably, neither DuPont nor Chemours have admitted fault, as part of the settlement.
According to media reports, had a settlement had not been reached, US District Judge Edmund Sargus had promised to try 40 cancer cases in 2017 and had already set dates for 10 such trials and was recruiting judges from other districts to assist.
The cases are Moody v. DuPont, case number 2:15-cv-00803, and In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, case number 2:13-md-02433, both in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.