All the seats in a Columbus courtroom are taken. The first of 3,500 legal claims against chemical giant DuPont and its Chemours Corp. subsidiary has begun. A 59-year-old Ohio woman claims a chemical used in the making of the company’s Teflon caused her kidney cancer.
The chemical called C-8 was known to DuPont to be dangerous, she argues. In order to reduce the risks of occupational disease, the company told employees to wear gas masks and gloves when working with C-8. But the woman’s attorney noted in opening arguments that “no one tells (her) to wear gloves and a gas mask before she takes a shower.”
“We are confident that DuPont acted reasonably and responsibly at each stage in the long history of C-8, placing high priority on the health of its employees and the community,” a spokesperson for Chemours said in an email. In fact, the company’s attorneys claim no workers were ever harmed by the chemical; not even those exposed to high levels of C-8.
Back in 1997, DuPont was facing legal claims by 80,000 people over a number of diseases they claimed were related to C-8. The company agreed to have a scientific panel study the chemical. The panel’s findings: C-8 is linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis and three other diseases.
Internal documents show as well that the company was aware that the chemical was going into the Ohio River and contaminating residential drinking water, Bloomberg reports. Of course, company employees were among the many thousands drinking the compromised water.
When a worker has been exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace, it might take years for resultant illnesses, medical conditions and illnesses to surface. These cases involve complex intersections of medicine and law that can be navigated with the help of an attorney skilled and experienced in occupational disease negotiations and litigation.