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Jurors Order DuPont Additional $500,000 in Lawsuit over Teflon-Making Chemical

Jurors Order DuPont Additional $500,000 in Lawsuit over Teflon-Making Chemical
A man who said he developed testicular cancer from exposure to a toxic chemical used to make Teflon at one of DuPont’s plants has been awarded an additional $500,000 in punitive damages by U.S. jurors.
A lawyer for the plaintiff said that the ordered was passed on Friday against DuPont.
57-year-old plaintiff David Freeman was awarded $5.1 million in compensatory damages on Wednesday by the same jury in Ohio federal court.
This is the first time a jury has found that DuPont’s “actual malice” warranted an award of punitive damages and this is also the second trial in which a jury has found the company liable for claims involving exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid. This is a chemical that is better known as PFOA or C-8 and which is used to make products such as Teflon nonstick cookware.
More than 3,400 lawsuits have been filed by individuals who said they developed one of six diseases linked to C-8 that they say leaked from a DuPont plant in West Virginia against the company which is the named defendant in all the cases. However the liability that would or could arise from the lawsuits would be covered by Chemours Co, after a recent spin-off of DuPont’s performance chemicals segment.
 The company "retains its defenses" to DuPont claims for indemnification for the judgments, Chemours spokeswoman Cynthia Salitsky said in a statement on Friday after the judgment.  
Earlier this week and following the initial verdict by the jury, the shares of Chemours were hit hard. However Chemours shares surged 15.5 percent to $7.58 and DuPont shares were up 2.5 percent at $63.46 after the jury’s verdict due to the relatively modest punitive-damage verdict.
An award of $1.6 million in compensatory damages to a woman who had kidney cancer last year after in a trial but the verdict did not include any punitive damages. For law suits related to those filed by plaintiffs with cancers blamed on C-8 exposure, the federal judge overseeing the litigation has ordered DuPont to prepare for 40 trials a year starting in April 2017.
The jury's finding about DuPont's "conscious disregard" for residents near its West Virginia plant was adequately reflected by the punitive damages said a lawyer for the plaintiff, Mike Papantonio.
"Now, DuPont has to decide how many of these hits can they take," he said.
The verdict came in a so-called bellwether trial and the verdict would be appealed against by Chemours and DuPont, both the companies said. The jurors were misled about the risks of exposure to C-8 which had an impact on the jury coming up with the verdict, said DuPont spokesman Dan Turner.
Both sides would be able to value the remaining claims for settlement purposes even though the outcomes of these early trials are not binding on other cases.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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