DuPont lawsuits (re PFOA pollution in USA)
Starting in 1998, multiple lawsuits were filed in US courts against chemical company DuPont in relation to PFOA used to produce Teflon. Local farmers, residents and company workers claimed to have suffered illnesses linked to PFOA pollution from DuPont's Parkersburg plant in West Virginia. In one class action lawsuit settled in 2005, DuPont agreed to provide up to $235 million for medical monitoring of over 70,000 people. There have been numerous individual lawsuits from victims of PFOA-related diseases. In February 2017, DuPont settled over 3,550 lawsuits for $671 million.
DuPont is a manufacturer of the plastic material, Teflon, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, USA. Teflon was, until 2013, produced with Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA or C-8. Studies have found that PFOA exposure is linked with several diseases. Leaked internal company documents revealed that DuPont knew about the dangers of PFOA as far back as 1961, and knew in 1984 that the chemical was present in the local water supply and being emitted in dust from the factory chimneys, yet did not disclose this to workers or the surrounding public. According to a 2004 study by an industry risk assessor hired by DuPont, the plant dumped and emitted over 1.7 million pounds of PFOA between 1951 and 2003.
People who worked in the factory, families living in the local area, or communities living down river affected by water pollution, all claiming to have illnesses linked to PFOA pollution, filed numerous lawsuits against DuPont. A local family sued DuPont in 1998 over loss of cattle allegedly due to the pollution from the nearby PFOA sludge laden landfill. This lawsuit was settled in 2001 for an undisclosed sum. The information about PFOA uncovered in this lawsuit led to a class action in 2001 filed by the same attorney on behalf of 80,000 people living in districts whereby PFOA had leaked into the water supply. This class action was settled in 2005, with DuPont agreeing to provide up to $235 million for medical monitoring for over 70,000 people living in six water districts around the plant in Parkersburg.
By 2014, there was a growing number of individual lawsuits against DuPont for PFOA related diseases, and six plaintiffs were selected for test cases, to demonstrate how the others would fare. By 2015, there were approximately 3,500 pending lawsuits. In the first case, a jury ruled that DuPont was responsible for the kidney cancer of a plaintiff and ordered the company to pay $1.6 million in compensatory damages. In the second, a jury found that DuPont acted with malice and ordered the company to pay $5.6 million in punitive damages and compensatory damages. Between 2014 and 2016, three other cases were settled for undisclosed amounts, and the fourth was withdrawn from the test case pool by the plaintiff.
In February 2017, DuPont settled over 3,550 PFOA lawsuits for $671 million but denied any wrongdoing.