Jury orders DuPont to pay
$10.5 million over leaked chemical
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[January 06, 2017]
By Erica Teichert
(Reuters) - 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 said.
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
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
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.
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"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
Those two trials were test cases, or bellwethers, meant to determine
the major issues and gauge the scale of liability for the remaining
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.
(Reporting by Erica Teichert in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum
and Alan Crosby)
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