By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.
In addition to the $5.1 million dollars in compensatory damages awarded in the bellwether case against involving the dumping of toxic chemicals by E.I. du Pont de Nemours at its manufacturing facility in Wood County, West Virginia, an Ohio federal jury has assessed $500,000 in punitive damages against the chemical company during the second phase of the trial. The jury also determined the DuPont was liable for the resident’s attorneys’ fees. The bellwether case was brought by a resident who allegedly developed testicular cancer as a result of his exposure to the toxic chemicals commonly referred to as PFOA and C-8. In its initial verdict, the jury found substantial evidence proving that DuPont acted with actual malice (Freeman v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., July 8, 2016, Sargus, E.).
The $5.1 million in compensatory damages (see Products Liability Law Daily’s July 7, 2016 analysis) arose out of the resident’s complaint, which alleged that DuPont negligently, intentionally, maliciously, knowingly, and recklessly contaminated the drinking water supplies in the Little Hocking PSD water district where he lived by allowing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and/or ammonium perfluorooctanoate (a/k/a C-8/APFO/PFOA) to be discharged, vented, and/or otherwise released in connection with its manufacturing operations at the plant. The complaint charged that the dumping of these chemicals began as early as the 1950s and that DuPont knew as early as 1954 that there were concerns about the potential toxicity of C-8. The complaint provided a detailed history of the studies done on human blood samples and female employees, along with other available data, all of which suggested that there was a causal connection between occupational exposure to C-8 and various health and pregnancy issues.
The resident’s complaint had set forth several causes of action including: negligence and strict liability design defect and failure to warn. Conspiracy with independent testing organizations, concealment, misrepresentation, fraud, unfair and deceptive practices in violation of West Virginia law, past and continuing trespass and battery, and negligence per se. The complaint also set forth claims for the negligent, intentional, and reckless infliction of emotional distress, and for punitive damages.
The case is No. 2:13-cv-1103.
Attorneys: James Charles Peterson (Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC) for David Freeman. C. Craig Woods (Squire Patton Boggs LLP) for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.
Companies: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.
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