Processing Magazine

West Virginia governor, DuPont met over appeal of $196M verdict

August 13, 2008

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin''s office acknowledged that he met twice with DuPont as it planned to appeal a $196 million punitive damage award in a West Virginia pollution case, the Associated Press reports. His office also reviewed a draft friend-of-the-court brief offered by the chemical giant. The court is in summer recess and has not yet decided whether to take the case. The revelation about communication between the governor''s office and the chemical giant is the latest twist in a complex class-action lawsuit involving nearly 8,000 people exposed to toxic chemicals that spewed for decades from a zinc-smelting plant in Spelter. While the case centered on medical and liability issues, the plaintiffs also argued that close ties to DuPont made environmental regulators and other state officials complicit in allowing a 112-acre waste pile tainted with arsenic, cadmium and lead to sit in the center of town until 2001. After a five-week trial in county circuit court last fall, jurors convicted DuPont of wanton, willful and reckless conduct and ordered it to pay punitive damages to deter future misconduct. Total damages were $382 million.