An Ohio federal judge ruled Wednesday, December 17, that DuPont will be bound to its contractual agreement and to the results of the DuPont-sponsored scientific panel study which found that C-8 exposure likely causes kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia.
Since the 1950s, DuPont has owned and operated the Washington Works Plaint in Wood County, West Virginia which used hazardous and toxic chemicals called ammonium perfluorooctanoate, (also known as C-8.) In 2001, West Virginia residents filed a complaint alleging that the Washington Works plant had discharged C-8 into public and private drinking water sources in Little Hocking, Lubeck, Belpre, Tuppers Plains, Pomeroy and Mason Counties. In 2005, DuPont settled and agreed to establish a scientific panel of epidemiologists to study diseases among the 80,000 exposed residents, and determine which diseases are “linked” to C-8 (likely caused by C-8 exposure).
The panel has concluded its scientific study and released its findings that six diseases are likely caused by C-8 exposure: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia. The panel also decided that 55 other diseases studied among the residents were not linked to C-8.
Individuals exposed to C-8 and diagnosed with these diseases have filed suit against DuPont for their injuries. In 2013, these cases were consolidated before Judge Edmund Sargus in southern Ohio. Over 1,500 individual cases have been filed. In response to the lawsuits, DuPont denied that C-8 can cause the diseases identified by its own panel of experts.
Judge Sargus has sided with the injured residents and ordered that DuPont must honor its earlier agreement and it cannot contest whether linked diseases were caused by C-8 exposure. Judge Sargus explained: “This means, for example, that the individual plaintiffs are not required to come forward with evidence proving that their individual dosage of C-8 is sufficient to permit the Probable Link Finding to be applied to them.”