By Pamela Brust, Special to The Times
PARKERSBURG - A September trial has been delayed in a
pending lawsuit filed by residents alleging C8 emitted by the
Washington Works DuPont plant has damaged their health.
Proceedings in the class-action lawsuit filed against
DuPont is stayed pending the outcome of DuPont's appeal in
West Virginia Supreme Court. The company is seeking a writ of
prohibition to block an earlier order issued by Circuit Judge
George W. Hill that requires DuPont to provide and pay for C8 blood testing. DuPont is
also seeking a writ to prohibit Hill from acting further,
asking his disqualification issue be transferred to the chief
justice for ruling.
Trial in the civil action had been set for Sept. 15 in
Hill's court. However, the high court scheduled a hearing for
10 a.m. Sept. 23 on DuPont's motion.
The judge earlier ordered DuPont to offer and pay for blood
tests to determine C8 levels of the class members
in the pending suit. DuPont has estimated there are 50,000 or
more members of the class action. If surrounding water
districts are included that number could be in excess of
100,000, according to the company's estimates.
DuPont is arguing the order for the blood testing was
granted without proper advance notice to its attorneys that
such an issue would be addressed and without legal basis. The
company claims the testing will cost "millions of dollars,"
create "undue anxiety among West Virginia residents" and take
time and resources away from DuPont in preparing for trial.
DuPont also filed a motion for a $2 million injunction
bond. The circuit court delayed ruling on the motion for bond.
The company is seeking the bond so it can recover some of its
costs if blood testing is not approved. Hill delayed his
ruling pending Supreme Court action. DuPont's motions argue
that since the judge has not imposed bond, or relieved the
parties of their obligation to pay it, DuPont has no way of
recovering its losses from the class members, company
According to affidavits filed recently, an expert from
DuPont's Haskell Laboratory stated there are few labs that can
test at the level of parts per billion and the fee for
analysis of 100,000-plus individuals is estimated at $90 per
sample plus the costs of supplies, notices and other expenses.
Ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or C8 as it is commonly referred
to locally, is a detergent-like material DuPont uses in
manufacturing fluoropolymers like Teflon. DuPont officials
state in more than 50 years of using C8 there has been no
indication it is a human health hazard, but there has been
evidence in lab animals that C8 could be harmful. That's
why the federal Environmental Protection Agency is looking
into the potential impact C8 has on people.
The original lawsuit was filed August 2001 by Lubeck and
Washington residents against DuPont 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.