Jury Awards $10.5M in Punitive Damages Against DuPont

Jan 5, 2017

An abandoned ball field outside of Washington, West Virginia, near where DuPont used to manufacture Teflon products.
Credit Glynis Board

A federal court in Ohio delivered a verdict this week awarding $10.5 million in punitive damages to a man with testicular cancer who, for years, was exposed through drinking water to the toxic chemicals DuPont used to make Teflon.

Altogether, Kenneth Vigneron Sr. was awarded $12.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages. The Ohio man says he got testicular cancer because he was exposed to the chemical known as C8 (or PFOA) through public water supplies in Belpre and Little Hocking - both towns are near the chemical company DuPont’s Washington Works facility in West Virginia.

Vigneron’s is the latest in a handful of cases that have already gone to trial against DuPont. Other verdicts also found the chemical company guilty of negligence and acting maliciously by knowingly contaminating water supplies. DuPont’s lawyers maintain that jurors have been misled about the risks of C8 exposure.

About 3,500 similar lawsuits are pending against the company.

A spin-off company, Chemours, which inherited many legacy responsibilities from DuPont, issued a statement saying DuPont will appeal the verdict, and that the majority of the thousands of pending lawsuits are residents who allege they have high cholesterol and thyroid disease - not cancer. The statement went on to say that Chemours is legally shielded from liability, should DuPont try to shift responsibility to the smaller company for final judgments.

Cynthia Salitsky, Chemours Spokesperson, released the following statement:

“We expect DuPont to appeal the verdict, subject to post-trial motions, to address important, unresolved issues that affect the broader, ongoing multi-district litigation (MDL).  Of the 3500 claims in the MDL, the majority allege high cholesterol and thyroid disease, not cancer diagnoses.  Each of these claims will be evaluated on an individual basis due to the unique facts present in every case. Litigation of this kind typically takes place over many years, and interim results do not predict the ultimate outcome.  As previously disclosed, DuPont is the named defendant in each of the cases and is liable for any judgment.  In the event DuPont claims it is entitled to indemnification from Chemours as to some or all of the judgment, Chemours retains its defenses to such claims.”