The chemical company, DuPont, manufactures products in its Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. For years, DuPont allowed large amounts of C8 from its plant to contaminate the air, groundwater and landfills in the area resulting in contamination of drinking water in six water districts in Ohio and West Virginia.
In 1984, an employee from a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia, filled a jug with tap water from a little general store just across the Ohio River called Mason’s Village Market. An internal DuPont document shows that the company was secretly testing the water for ammonium perfluorooctanoate — better known as C8. DuPont employees also took samples from stores in eight other unsuspecting communities in the Ohio River Valley. C8 is a chemical used to reduce the surface tension of water and is used in the manufacturing of Teflon, non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpet, cosmetics, dental floss, and other consumer products.
The document shows C8 was detected at three stores closest to the plant, including Mason’s Village Market in Little Hocking, Ohio. It also shows that, at one of those stores, the level of C8 measured more than 20 times higher than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today considers safe for drinking water.
DuPont conducted more tests around the sprawling Washington Works plant but never told anyone about its findings. It just continued as it had since 1951, using C8 to keep Teflon and other slippery coatings from clumping during the manufacturing process and pouring the waste into the Ohio River or allowing it to escape from smokestacks.
By 2003, DuPont allowed almost 2.5 million pounds of C8 from its plant into the Ohio River Valley harming residents of six water districts.
- Little Hocking, Ohio
- City of Belpre, Ohio
- Tuppers Plains, Ohio
- Village of Pomeroy, Ohio
- Lubeck Public Service District, West Virginia
- Mason County Public Service District, West Virginia
Residents of Ohio and West Virginia suffered from life threatening illnesses, including certain cancers, and even death after consuming the C8 contaminated water.
Under the terms of a 2001 class action lawsuit settled in 2005, an independent public health group was selected to investigate the potential link between the C8 contaminated water and the diseases in the community.
During the investigation, DuPont demanded that the EPA put out a known lie that all products sold under the Teflon brand are safe, and the EPA did as instructed. The disinformation campaign was a successful scam.
In 2012, the C8 Science Panel of epidemiologists found a probable link between C8 and kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and several other diseases. Wright & Schulte, LLC is currently investigating cases for individuals and family members of loved ones
On February 13, 2017, DuPont Co. and Chemours Co. (a spin-off company created by DuPont to manufacturer Gen-X – a toxic chemical used to make Teflon after C8 was banned – and shield the DuPont name) reached a settlement with multidistrict litigation plaintiffs injured by the contaminated C8 water. The settlement was reached during the fourth C8 trial and after three plaintiff victories in the earlier trials. Both DuPont and Chemours, the company that now owns the plant, each agreed to pay $335.35 million to settle the 3,500 C8 lawsuits that were filed in the U.S. District Court, District of Southern Ohio.
In addition to the C8 lawsuit settlement and DuPont’s commitment to help clean and monitor the water, a statement announced Chemours has agreed to pay the first of $25 million of any potential future PFOA costs. This is in addition to the settlement and will be paid annually over the next five years. The statement further went on to say DuPont will also cover additional costs up to $25 million.
The first three C8 lawsuit bellwether trials resulted in jurors finding against DuPont and in favor of the plaintiffs:
- In October of 2015, a jury awarded $1.6 million including emotional distress damages to an Ohio woman who developed kidney cancer from exposure to the C8.
- In July 2016, an Ohio man suffering from testicular cancer was awarded $5.1 million and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages.
- In December 2016, jurors awarded $1 million to an Ohio man diagnosed with testicular cancer after being exposed to C8-contaminated water.
Attorney Richard W. Schulte of Wright & Schulte served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the C8 litigation working with other plaintiff attorneys to prosecute cases on behalf of thousands of injured individuals and their families. Wright & Schulte continues to represent numerous individuals and families injured by contaminated C8 water.
In a major financial sacrifice by the winners of the lawsuit, the money was donated towards a facility that could test the link between disease and C8 so the world could see that DuPont was causing major illnesses and death by manufacturing Teflon products.