A federal jury just announced that $10.5 million in damages will be awarded to 56-year old trucker, Keith Vigernon, who developed cancer after the chemical giant, Dupont, poisoned water in the Ohio River Valley with a known carcinogen for decades.
Courts declared that DuPont had acted with malice by poisoning water with a known cancer-causing agent for years, without ever informing residents of the area.
It’s important to punish, to end this corrupt corporate mentality,” the plaintiff’s attorney Gary Douglas urged the jury in District Court in Columbus before their decision, reports the Columbus Dispatch. “Without it, Dupont and other companies will continue to tread on us,” he continued.
Perfluorooctanoic acid or C8 has been used by Dupont since the 1960s to make its lucrative Teflon product, but waited decades to reveal it could cause cancer.
Rob Bilott, a corporate defense attorney was one of the first lawyers to take on Dupont, and their decades-long history of chemical pollution. One of his first Dupont plaintiffs caught his attention when he called him up to describe his cows with blood running out of their mouths and noses from drinking Dupont’s contaminated water.
Wilbur Tennent showed him a video with a large pipe running into a creek, discharging green water with bubbles on the surface. ‘‘This is what they expect a man’s cows to drink on his own property,’’ Wilbur told him. ‘‘It’s about high time that someone in the state department of something-or-another got off their cans.’’
Bilott filed a federal suit against DuPont in the summer of 1999 in West Virginia, but Dupont’s lawyer who had an in with the E.P.A. was able to convince courts that the problem with Wilbur’s cattle was due to poor animal husbandry, not Dupont’s egregious chemical dumps in the area’s rivers.
This is even more reason to celebrate the recent court victory by Vigernon, as Dupont has a legacy of killing animals, fouling land and water, and harming people with their chemical products.
As legal victories stack up against Dupont – with 3,500 cases still pending in court over the Ohio River Valley, alone — hopefully they will go bankrupt. Dupont only stopped dumping C8 in public water supplies in 2014, though they knew it was cancerous for at least two decades.