Processing Magazine

DuPont asks WV Supreme Court to overturn $400 million verdict

April 8, 2009
The Associated Press reports that Chemical maker DuPont urged the West Virginia Supreme Court to fix what it called mistakes that led to a nearly $400 million verdict against the company by overturning the case. The court can order a new trial or even decide the case in DuPont''s favor, lawyer David Thomas said during oral arguments. DuPont contends Harrison County Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell erred by not ruling the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit after the statute of limitations had expired, among other things. The case centers on a 2007 Harrison County jury''s decision that DuPont downplayed and lied about health threats on and around the site of a former zinc plant in Spelter. Damages awarded against the giant chemical maker included $196 million meant to punish it for its conduct; $130 million to fund a 40-year health screening program for area residents; and $55.5 million to clean up private properties. The plaintiffs have filed their own appeal seeking to expand a cleanup plan that they say improperly excludes about 300 people with property near the former smelter. Several of the court''s five justices asked repeatedly about the statute of limitations issue. The clock started ticking in 2003 when landowners first learned that lead, arsenic and other pollutants had contaminated areas beyond the smelter site.