Lawrence Moody said he is satisfied that he and 3,550 other people are finally getting justice.
"You just can't do that to people," the Washington County man said after DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours agreed to pay nearly $671 million to Mid-Ohio Valley people affected by a chemical used to make Teflon that causes cancer and a host of other health problems.
The settlement was announced Monday during the trial of Moody's lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus. Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. sent the jury home without a verdict.
Moody's lawyers argued that DuPont covered up that the chemical C8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, was toxic. The chemical spewed into the air and Ohio River from DuPont's Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, West Virginia, since the 1950s. The lawyers said the company knew since 1980 that it caused cancer in rats.
"It took away having the option to protect my family, not knowing, 'Should you drink the water or not?' " said Moody, 57, who has testicular cancer.
A study found that, in general, area residents who drank water from wells near the plant had a median level of 38 parts per billion of C8 in their blood — 7.6 times more than the average American. In 2012, a science panel concluded a "probable link" existed between C8 and six diseases: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and high cholesterol.
The 200 or so plaintiffs with cancer are expected to receive at least $1 million. At the lower end, those with high cholesterol could receive awards in the five figures.
"This agreement provides a sound resolution for area residents, Chemours, and the public," said David C. Shelton, general counsel for Chemours. "It settles all indemnification obligations between Chemours and DuPont for all of the approximately 3,500 claims in the Ohio multi-district litigation and allows us to move forward with a renewed focus on our customers, product innovation and application development."
DuPont spun off Chemours last year to take over the production of Teflon and other "performance chemicals" products at the Washington Works plant. Defense attorneys said it was an attempt to load its lawsuit debt on Chemours and erase its own liability.
Observers said a planned merger with Dow Chemical — as well as the increasing jury awards in C8 cases — motivated DuPont to step up settlement talks.
Also, Sargus had recruited other federal judges to begin tackling the more expensive cancer cases in May at the rate of 40 over 10 months each year.
DuPont lost the previous three suits tried in Columbus. The last jury said the chemical giant owed $2 million in general damages and, in January, $10.5 million in punitive damages to another Ohio man with testicular cancer.
DuPont has argued that it reacted to the problem using the best science of the time, and spent $594 million to address the problem.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs countered that the company has a "staggering" $18.8 billion that can be converted to cash, including $4.5 billion in cash and other sources. The $2 million it paid a claimant in general damages, the company makes in 42 minutes, they said.
Prosecutors in the Netherlands have begun a criminal investigation into possible C8 contamination from a DuPont plant there.