U.S. jury orders DuPont to pay $10.5 mln over leaked chemical

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By Erica Teichert

<span class="articleLocation”>A U.S. jury in Ohio ordered DuPont on Thursday
to pay $10.5 million in punitive damages to a man who said he
developed testicular cancer from exposure to a toxic chemical
leaked from a Dupont plant, the plaintiff’s lawyer Robert Bilott

The federal jury had awarded Kenneth Vigneron $2 million in
compensatory damages in December. Bilott said the jury also
awarded attorneys’ fees, to be determined at a later date.

This is the third and largest verdict that jurors in the
Columbus, Ohio, federal court have issued against DuPont for
injuries linked to perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA or C-8,
which is used to make Teflon. The $12.5 million in damages is
more than double the amount awarded in a case decided in July.

“The jury has sent a strong message that we hope DuPont will
listen to,” Bilott said in an email to Reuters.

DuPont faces more than 3,400 lawsuits over the leak of the
chemical from its Parkersburg, West Virginia, plant.

The leak allegedly contaminated local water supplies and has
been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney
cancer. Vigneron claimed he developed testicular cancer from the
chemical exposure.

DuPont has used C-8 at the West Virginia plant since the
early 1950s. Vigneron alleged the company leaked the chemical
from the facility during the course of its operations.

While DuPont is the named defendant in the litigation, it
has an agreement that its performance chemicals spinoff Chemours
Co will cover the costs of such lawsuits.

Chemours spokeswoman Cynthia Salitsky said Dupont was
directly liable for damages and Chemours may have defenses to
any potential indemnification claim.

She also noted the majority of remaining lawsuits claim the
chemical caused high cholesterol or thyroid disease, not cancer.

DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the company was
disappointed in the verdict and planned to appeal.

“We believe the verdict was the result of trial rulings that
misrepresented the findings of an independent science panel and
misled jurors about the risks of C8 exposure,” Turner said.

DuPont has lost two other recent trials over C-8. The first
ended in October 2015 with an award of $1.6 million to a woman
who claimed the chemical caused her to develop kidney cancer.

In July 2016, a jury in a case involving a plaintiff with
testicular cancer found Dupont acted with actual malice. The
jury returned a verdict of $5.1 million, which was later
bolstered with $500,000 in punitive damages.

Those two trials were test cases, or bellwethers, meant to
determine the major issues and gauge the scale of liability for
the remaining litigation.

Vigneron’s case is the first non-bellwether trial in the
consolidated litigation, with 39 more cases slated to go to
trial in Columbus over the next year.

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