DuPont denied motion for new trial

February 18, 2016
By JEFFREY SAULTON ([email protected]) , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

COLUMBUS – Motions from DuPont asking for a reduction of the $1.6 million award to a Guysville, Ohio, woman and a new trial were denied Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Ohio.

In her lawsuit, Carla Marie Bartlett claimed exposure to C8 in area water resulted in her contracting renal cell carcinoma, or kidney cancer, one of six diseases determined to have a probable link to the chemical.

U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. ruled the $1.6 million awarded to Bartlett was proper since it did not violate the caps set by the 2004 Ohio Tort Reform Act.

In 2012 the Science Panel said there were probable links between C8 exposure and kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy induced hypertension, including preeclampsia and hypercholesterolemia.

“The jury award is not clearly excessive based on applications of the tort reform act damages limitations,” Sargus wrote. “Accordingly the court denies DuPont’s request for a remittitur.”

Remittitur is a judge’s order reducing a judgment awarded by a jury when the award exceeds the amount asked for by the person who brought the suit. Bartlett’s case was the first of 3,500 cases brought against the company to be heard.

In addition to the objection to the amount of the award, DuPont attorneys said there were numerous errors in the trial and a new trial is needed. They argued the errors ranged from the admission to hearsay evidence to improper instructions to the jury. They also argued Bartlett was allowed to produce less proof than required of plaintiffs in similar cases.

Robin Ollis Stemple, regional public affairs manager for The Chemours Co., said the judge’s ruling was expected.

“The motions in the Bartlett matter were denied, as expected, and we will now proceed with our planned appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court,” she said.

In June 2015 DuPont announced it had completed the separation of its performance chemicals segment through the spin-off of The Chemours Co.

In March the second of the six bellwether cases is set for trial before Sargus.

In the cases filed in late 2014 it was claimed the company’s use of C8 in the Teflon manufacturing process was responsible for a number of health problems. They allege the chemical contaminated water in the areas surrounding the company’s Washington Works plant at Washington, W.Va., south of Parkersburg.

In his 125-page ruling, Sargus said the case was not conducted in an unfair manner against the company.

“The trial was in no way influenced by prejudice or bias so that it was unfair to DuPont in some fashion,” he wrote.