COLUMBUS — After more than a month of testimony, a federal jury said chemical manufacturer DuPont acted with malice by releasing C8-tainted water from its Washington Works plant, south of Parkersburg, into the Ohio River.
David Freeman, 56, who lives in the Little Hocking Water Association service area of Washington County, claimed C8 in the drinking water was the cause of his testicular cancer.
On Wednesday the jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio awarded Freeman $5.1 million in damages and will return today to hear testimony regarding the amount of punitive damages.
DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the company is unable to comment until the trial is concluded.
There are 3,500 lawsuits alleging a link between illnesses and the Wilmington, Del.-based company’s discharging of the chemical into the Ohio River.
Freeman says he got testicular cancer because of C8 that was used in the Teflon manufacturing process. DuPont phased C8 out of the process in 2015.
DuPont maintains there were only small amounts of C8 in drinking water and not enough to be harmful.
Freeman’s case is among the first few cases to be heard. In one case now under appeal, jurors awarded $1.6 million to Carla Bartlett, of Coolville, who got kidney cancer, but no punitive damages were awarded.
The company settled with John Wolf, of West Virginia, who said C8 exposure caused him to have ulcerative colitis. Another case was dismissed after a doctor changed the plaintiff’s diagnosis.
Two upcoming federal court trials in Columbus will focus on a Pocahontas County, W.Va., woman and an Athens County, Ohio, woman, who both claimed C8 caused them to have kidney cancer.
More than 200 of the 3,500 cases filed are expected to be heard in 2017.
“This verdict vindicates all of us who have been fighting for DuPont to do the right thing, a fight that has lasted over a decade,” said Paul Bock, an adviser to Keep Your Promises DuPont, about Wednesday’s verdict.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)