By PAMELA BRUST
PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
has agreed to hear DuPont's motion for a writ of prohibition
to block a Wood County circuit court order requiring DuPont to
offer and pay for C8 blood tests to class members of a pending
lawsuit. DuPont is also asking the Supreme Court to
overrule Circuit Judge George W. Hill's refusal to step down
in the case. That issue will be referred to the chief justice
for ruling, according to a spokesman for the Supreme Court
A hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 23 for the justices
to consider DuPont's motion for the writ.
The justices announced their decision to consider the writ
following a hearing Thursday. Also Thursday, Justice Joseph P.
Albright of Parkersburg declined to step down from the case.
DuPont had claimed Albright was an affected member of the
Plaintiffs' attorneys said that was not the case, arguing
while Parkerburg had detectable C8 levels, they were not
quantifiable, as had been in the case in areas such as Lubeck
and Little Hocking. Plaintiffs argued residing in Parkersburg
did not mean individuals were part of the class.
In a wirtten statement Thursday, DuPont officials said:
"DuPont is pleased that the West Virginia Supreme Court has
decided to review the rulings of the trial court and that we
will be heard on the merits of the issues involved."
Speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, attorney R. Edison
Hill said, "We welcome the Supreme Court's review of Judge
In making his May rulings, Hill found C8 (ammonium
perfluorooctanoate) "is toxic and hazardous to humans and is
biopersistent, meaning that it is absorbed into and persists
in the blood of humans exposed to C8." Hill also made the
finding the Washington Works plant "contaminated the drinking
water of the class members (in the pending lawsuit) with C8 by virtue of past and
continuing releases" from the plant.
DuPont attorney Larry Janssen earlier said Hill's order
made findings of fact "without the benefit of any scientific
"Nothing in DuPont's 50 years of experience with C8 indicates it is a hazard
and nothing in the toxicity testing for C8 suggests the class members
are at any risk whatsoever. Decisions about science and
medicine must be based on evidence, not argument," Janssen
The original lawsuit was filed in 2001 by Lubeck/Washington
residents against DuPont Washington Works and Lubeck Public
Service District. LPSD has settled its portion of the suit.
The civil action alleges DuPont knowingly discharged C8 into water supplies in
amounts exceeding the plant's own guidelines, concealing that
information from the public. Plaintiffs claim C8 exposure has made them ill,
including increased risks of cancer and other diseases.
They asked for funds from DuPont for medical testing and
monitoring for possible health problems as a result of C8 exposure and damages they
claim were incurred for alleged injuries and property damage.
The court earlier designated the "class" in the suit as
"all persons whose drinking water is or has been contaminated
with C8 attributable to releases
from DuPont's Washington Works plant."
C8 is used by DuPont
Washington Works in the manufacture of fluoropolymer