US jury awards over $5 million in claim linked to PFOA emitted by DuPont plant

US chemicals giant DuPont must pay more than $5 million (£3.8 million) to an Ohio man whose testicular cancer has been linked to drinking water contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; C8) from a DuPont plant in West Virginia, a federal jury ruled on 6 July. A few days later, the same jurors directed DuPont to pay another $500,000 in punitive damages to the plaintiff, David Freeman.

DuPont is accused of releasing hundreds of tonnes of PFOA into the Ohio River over decades. This is the company’s second loss in a series of bellwether personal injury lawsuits brought by individuals who developed one of six diseases linked to PFOA that they claim were the result of drinking water tainted by DuPont’s West Virginia Teflon factory. Last year, a jury awarded $1.6 million to an Ohio woman who contracted kidney cancer. There are 3400 similar cases awaiting trial.

DuPont says it will appeal the Freeman verdict because it resulted from trial rulings that ‘misrepresented the findings of an independent science panel and misled jurors about the risks of C8 exposure’. The company claims that the same thing happened in the previous trial, which is now on appeal. If Freeman’s award stands, the expectation has been that it will be paid by DuPont spinoff Chemours. However, Chemours questions its financial responsibility.

Cynthia Salitsky, a Chemours spokesperson, suggested that there are ‘substantial legal grounds’ to challenge the jury’s ruling, and she said this type of litigation could take many years to resolve. ‘DuPont is the named defendant in each of these cases and is directly liable for any judgment,’ Salitsky stated.