By KEN WARD JR.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — DuPont Co. said this morning that a $670.7 million “global settlement” had been reached to resolve thousands of lawsuits from Mid-Ohio Valley residents who say they were made sick by exposure to the chemical C8 from the company’s Parkersburg manufacturing plant.
In a press release, DuPont said the “agreement in principle” would settle 3,550 personal injury cases. DuPont would pay half and Chemours, a spin-off company from DuPont, would pay the other half. Both companies continue to deny any wrongdoing, the press release said.
The cases are pending in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, where in the latest of three trials so far a federal jury ordered DuPont to pay $2 million in compensation and $10.5 million in punitive damages to a Washington County, Ohio, man who contracted testicular cancer after being exposed to the company’s C8 pollution.
DuPont said the tentative settlement involves all claims pending in the multi-district litigation being presided over by U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus Jr., including the cases for which jury verdicts have already been rendered.
After ignoring concerns about high levels of C8 in some West Virginia communities for years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this spring issued a new drinking-water advisory for the chemical, following the highly publicized discovery of contamination in communities near Hoosick Falls, New York.
The federal court lawsuits filed against DuPont come after a three-person panel of scientists finished a six-year study of C8 and concluded there were probable links between exposure to the chemical and certain human illnesses. Their work was funded by a class-action lawsuit settlement with DuPont and based, in part, on C8 testing and other health data from roughly 70,000 current and former residents — one of the most extensive examinations ever of how a toxic chemical affects humans.
The company’s press release also said that, to address future C8 liabilities that might arise, DuPont and Chemours have agreed that, for a period of five years, Chemours would annually pay C8 liabilities of up to $25 million on top of the settlement amount. If the liabilities exceed that $25 million, DuPont would pay the additional liabilities up to the next $25 million. Chemours would pay anything above that.
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