Thursday, January 29, 2015 - An ongoing MDL focused on the pollutants DuPont allegedly introduced into West Virginia and Ohio drinking water systems has recently seen the plaintiffs accuse the chemical company of concealing financial documentation. The lawsuit is connected to the leakage of a chemical used to make Teflon and focuses on its contamination of drinking water from DuPont‘s Washington Works plant. The contamination caused serious injuries to nearby residents, which included irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease, and even certain cancers. With a settlement all but certain in the proceedings, the defendants have allegedly taken questionable steps in order to avoid full liability once the final damages are set.
The plaintiffs claim that multiple orders made to fill the same request for documentation have resulted in DuPont repeatedly failing to comply. The financial records the plaintiffs are requesting relates to DuPont‘s additional chemical division Chemours Co. FC LLC. The information connected to Chemours, which the plaintiffs first requested more than a year ago, will look into speculation that this company will soon assume DuPont liabilities without possessing the capital to follow through on prospective dues to be paid following litigation.
Plaintiffs fear that this maneuver will act to engage bankruptcy laws in favor of DuPont, which would affect the settlements they may eventually have to pay out. Companies that were a part of the sweeping asbestos lawsuits devised similar strategies to stymie their liabilities in the face of multidistrict litigation and delay any eventual settlements reached.
A direct court order was given in March for DuPont to turn over financial information after a judge ruled against the defendant‘s claims that the information could be disseminated via press release and other company-managed solutions. After handing over the necessary documentation, plaintiffs found that Dupont was already in the works to file its initial Form 10 for Chemours, and the new company had recently been incorporated in February.
Despite its February incorporation, Chemours was not mentioned in DuPont‘s U.S. Securities Exchange Commission filing in May, another fact among many which the plaintiffs point to when accusing the defendants of suppressing information throughout the proceedings. This worries plaintiffs as there were many obligations given to DuPont in a 2005 class-action settlement that they worry will no longer be honored as a result of the organizational juggling.
There have also been reports the the company could even split up beyond the agreement with Chemours. The claims of DuPont hiding financial records are aimed at discovering what those plans may be and understanding what the ramifications those maneuvers will have on claimants.
The lawsuits against Dupont have been in litigation since 2001 and were originally settled in 2005, however further mediation was deemed necessary as residents continued to develop delayed symptoms in the years since the original settlement. As a result, the cases were eventually consolidated into multidistrict litigation in 2013. The MDL included over 1,600 lawsuits, down from the nearly 70,000 originally filed in the class-action lawsuit. Free blood tests and medical screening have been put in place for residents by DuPont pursuant to the prior settlement, but the resolution of the claims has been dragging due to the nefarious nature in which DuPont is dealing with the possible fracturing and reorganization of their company.
The statute of limitations for claimants looking to join the MDL passed in the past week.