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DuPont Challenges Court Order Favoring Plaintiffs in PFAS Case

Dec. 18, 2019, 8:59 PM

Chemical giant DuPont is urging federal judges to reverse a lower court’s ruling that favored plaintiffs in sprawling litigation involving PFAS contamination.

E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. filed an urgent request Dec. 16 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to review a recent ruling that limited the company’s defenses against a stack of claims from Ohio and West Virginia residents who say their water was contaminated by a DuPont manufacturing facility on the Ohio River.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled Nov. 25 that DuPont couldn’t relitigate issues that were decided during previous trials, including arguments that the company’s release of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, from its Washington Works facility amounted to negligence.

PFOA is a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS.

DuPont says Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. got it wrong when he limited the company’s defenses against plaintiffs’ claims that the PFOA releases caused cancer and other health issues. The company argued that the Sixth Circuit’s intervention is needed “to correct the abusive application and misuse of a district court’s authority in multidistrict litigation.”

According to DuPont, the earlier trials weren’t supposed to set binding standards for the balance of the litigation.

“The three cases ultimately tried were not and could not be representative of the 3,500 other cases in the MDL, which included plaintiffs with different residential histories, different exposure levels, different exposure histories, different conditions, and different medical histories,” the new filing says.

The case is In re: E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 6th Cir., No. 19-4226, petition 12/16/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergenvironment.com

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