A federal jury in Columbus, Ohio, has ordered that $10.5 million in punitive damages be paid to an Ohio man in the latest verdict against DuPont Co. in a series of trials in lawsuits brought by Mid-Ohio Valley residents whose drinking water was contaminated with the DuPont chemical C8.
The punitive damages — intended to punish DuPont’s conduct — are on top of $2 million in compensation the jury already ordered be paid to Kenneth Robert Vigneron, a 56-year-old truck driver from Washington County, Ohio, who contracted testicular cancer as a result of being exposed to DuPont’s C8 chemical pollution.
DuPont said it was disappointed in the verdict and would appeal.
C8 is another name for perfluorooctanoate acid, or PFOA. In West Virginia, DuPont has used C8 since the 1950s as a processing agent to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.
DuPont settled a major class-action case that left it liable for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in medical monitoring costs, and — after a scientific panel created by the settlement linked C8 to certain illnesses — liability for thousands of follow-up personal injury cases and for toxic cleanups related to C8.
In October 2015, a different jury returned a $1.6 million verdict in favor of a woman who also said she got cancer because of drinking water contaminated with C8. Carla Bartlett of Guysville, Ohio, was awarded $1.1 million in damages for DuPont’s negligence and $500,000 for emotional distress, but did not receive any punitive damages. That verdict is being appealed.
And in July 2016, another jury ordered DuPont Co. to pay $500,000 in punitive damages on top of $5.1 million in compensatory damages already awarded to David Freeman, a Marietta College professor who blamed his testicular cancer on the water contamination.
Another case, brought by a man who said C8 exposure caused his ulcerative colitis, settled for what DuPont described in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing as “an inconsequential amount” prior to a trial scheduled for March.
More than 3,500 cases over C8-related illness claims still are pending in federal court.