West Virginia Record
By John O'Brien
PARKERSBURG – The panel created as a result of a Wood County lawsuit against DuPont has released its recommended medical monitoring protocols for individuals exposed to a chemical known as C8.
On May 23, the panel’s plan was filed in a lawsuit that alleged DuPont contaminated drinking water around its Washington Works plant in Wood County with Perfluorooctanoic acide, also known as PFOA or C8.
The C8 Medical Panel was created as part of a 2005 settlement. The C8 Science Panel, also created by the settlement, has previously linked C8 exposure to kidney cancer, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, hypercholesterolemia and pregnancy-induced hypertension, including preeclampsia.
The value figure attached to the settlement was $107.6 million, with $72 million funding the C8 Health Project.
Charleston attorney Harry Deitzler – of the firm Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler – said the medical monitoring protocols are the first phase of recommended medical screening and testing.
The C8 Medical Panel also mentioned plans to create educational materials that will help inform class members about the benefits and harms of screening, Deitzler said.
Co-counsel Ed Hill commended the C8 Medical Panel, saying, “The speed with which the C8 Medical Panel developed such a comprehensive and detailed report is truly impressive.”
Affected residents who meet the class definition will be entitled to medical testing at DuPont’s expense.
Class members who suffer from linked diseases are also permitted to move forward with personal injury or related wrongful death claims against DuPont that arise from DuPont’s discharging the known carcinogen into the drinking water.
As part of the 2005 class action settlement, DuPont agreed it would not dispute that PFOA can cause diseases the C8 Science Panel linked to PFOA exposure.
On April 8, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created an MDL for personal injury lawsuits against DuPont over the issue.
Twenty-six lawsuits, including seven originally filed in West Virginia, were moved to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The order says 80,000 people live in the six water districts allegedly contaminated with C8.
Charleston attorney Kathy A. Brown, working with the Alabama firm Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris, filed the first C8 personal injury suits last year. The three complaints were filed in October in Wood Circuit Court.
The Alabama firm had lobbied for the cases to be consolidated in the Ohio court, arguing Charleston’s federal court is too busy. It already has five MDLs assigned to Chief Judge Joseph Goodwin, including a transvaginal mesh MDL that, as of February, was home to more than 11,000 cases.
Records show there are now 44 personal injury lawsuits in the MDL, including nine from West Virginia.
The two new West Virginia plaintiffs are represented by Deitzler’s firm, Kennedy & Madonna of Hurley, N.Y., and Winter & Johnson of Charleston.
On May 29, a case management order was entered in the MDL that appointed three attorneys as co-lead counsel for plaintiffs.
Those three attorneys will be Robert A. Bilott of Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati; Michael A. London of Douglas and London in New York; and Jon C. Conlin of Conlin Mezrano in Birmingham, Ala.
Hill will join the three as a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee. Other members of the PSC: are Ned McWilliams of Levin, Papantaonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor in Pensacola, Fla.; Kevin Madonna of Kennedy Madonna; Roger Denton of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton in St. Louis; Gregory H. Collins of Davis & Young in Akron, Ohio; and Richard Schulte of Wright & Schulte in Vandalia, Ohio.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.