PARKERSBURG — A $670.7 million settlement in principle has been reached resolving the C8 lawsuits pending against DuPont, officials announced on Monday.
DuPont and Chemours, the spinoff company which now owns and operates the Washington Works plant in Wood County, have agreed to each pay $335.35 million to settle the 3,500 cases in the class-action lawsuits against DuPont over damages from exposure to the chemical C8 in U.S. District Court in Columbus.
“This is a tremendous positive step toward resolving the litigation in a way that provides compensation for our injured clients without the need for additional, lengthy and expensive trials,” said Harry Deitzler, an attorney involved in the initial C8 lawsuits in Wood County who also represents plaintiffs in the federal cases, on behalf of the plaintiffs and Rob Bilott of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP, a co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the multi-district litigation.
“We look forward to working with DuPont to finalize this settlement and get these injured class members paid as quickly as possible,” Deitzler said.
Chemours was spun off from DuPont in 2015. C8, also known as PFOA or perflourooctoanate, was once used at the Washington Works to make Teflon.
A science panel created from the settlement of the 2001 class-action lawsuit said there was a probable link between C8 and six diseases: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy induced hypertension including preeclampsia and hypercholesterolemia.
“We are pleased to have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution for all parties that brings this matter to a close,” said Dan Turner of DuPont Corporate Media Relations.
Joe Kiger of Washington, W.Va., one of the early plaintiffs in the litigation, said it is premature to say much as the agreement is a proposal that has yet to be approved by the people involved. He learned of the settlement on Monday morning.
The settlement is a start, he said.
“At least it gets the cogs turning and the wheels spinning,” Kiger said.
Mark Fleischman, president of the Action Network, which is affiliated with Keep Your Promises DuPont, a group created to see DuPont remains accountable for any liabilities arising from C8 contamination, said he wishes the settlement was for more, but it will be an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.
The three cases previously tried in federal court and a fourth that was underway in district court will be included in the settlement. Attorneys in the fourth trial that started several weeks ago involving Larry Moody informed Judge Edmund A. Sargus Monday morning that the pending settlement was reached.
“No settlement can restore the health of the thousands of victims of DuPont’s C8, but we at Keep Your Promises are heartened to know that this long-awaited justice for these 3,550 members of our community is now within arm’s reach,” said Harold Bock, an adviser to Keep Your Promises.
The settlement is “a step in the right direction,” he said.
“And we are cautiously optimistic that the company will prevent any further delay, that this offer will be approved by the plaintiffs, and that this long-awaited promise will finally be fulfilled,” Bock said. “As of this announcement, no checks have been written and no compensation has been paid. Folks who have already had their days in court, including Carla Bartlett, David Freeman and Kenneth Vigneron, have had their awards bogged down in appeals. For DuPont and Chemours, who have shamelessly dragged this crisis out for decades, it is time to make good on this settlement offer without any further delay.”