January 22, 2013 — The chemical company DuPont has filed a motion to centralize a growing number of lawsuits stemming from C8 water contamination.
DuPont has asked the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer the actions into one federal court in either the Southern District of Ohio or the Southern District of West Virginia for pre-trial coordination.
The company is facing a total of 26 lawsuits, including 19 cases in Ohio and 7 in West Virginia, filed by individuals who allege that they were injured as a result of drinking water contaminated with C8 for at least one year prior to December 2004.
The chemical, C8, also known as PFOA or APFO, was allegedly released into the groundwater by DuPont’s Washington Works Plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The chemical is used to manufacture common plastics. Under the terms of a class action settlement involving approximately 80,000 residents who drank contaminated groundwater, a “Science Panel” was created to investigate the link between C8 and health risks.
C8 has been associated with the following diseases:
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (including preeclampsia)
- Kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Thyroid disease
- Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease)
- High cholesterol
Now that the class action has settled, plaintiffs who have suffered one of these diseases can seek damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. It is likely that the number of injury lawsuits will continue to grow, according to DuPont:
“Since the Leach class was comprised of approximately 80,000 persons, many additional lawsuits may be filed by former members of the Leach class alleging that they too suffer from one of the diseases to which there was a probable link finding by the Science Panel.”
DuPont is seeking to centralize the litigation to avoid conflicting pre-trial rulings, duplicative discovery, and the burden of litigating many cases involving similar witnesses and documents. The company has expressed preference for Ohio over West Virginia, given that most of the lawsuits were filed by residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley.