DuPont filings swell to more than 700

PARKERSBURG – Since March 12, more than 700 cases have been filed in the office of the Wood County Circuit Court Clerk against DuPont.

When the filings began attorney Harry Deitzler said more than 800 cases would be filed alleging DuPont allowed C8, or perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, to pollute the water in several areas near the Washington Works plant.

As of Friday the total number of general civil cases passed 1,000.

Wood County Circuit Court Clerk Carole Jones said the number of cases has not overwhelmed her office staff at this time. However, she said it has slowed down work on other cases, but not by a significant amount.

“It’s like everything else filed here; we have to prioritize what we do,” she said. “It comes down to my office has been understaffed for some time.”

Jones said the clerks in her office have had to log overtime due to the filings.

“There has been some overtime,” she said. “When we get a slew of cases like this, we have to stay late because they have to be in the system that day.”

By March 31, 2013, court records show 114 general civil actions were filed with the clerk. According to court records, general civil actions, cases such as those filed against DuPont, accounted for 540 cases on the circuit court docket.

In 2012 that number was 616, according to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals’ 2012 annual report.

In 2012 the total number of cases coming under the civil case filings category totaled 1,502 in Wood County, exceeded by only Kanawha with 5,090 cases, Cabell with 2,511 cases, Monongalia with 1,601 cases and Berkeley with 1,598 cases.

There are 10 categories under the civil cases: administrative agency appeals, adoptions, divorces, general civil, guardianship, magistrate appeals, mental health, “other” civil cases, “other” domestic relations and personal safety appeals.

Jones said the other concern is with the number of cases filed is the space for storing the documents for the DuPont- related cases and other civil cases that arise.

“We have filled one file cabinet for 2014 and we are filling a second cabinet for 2014 cases and we may fill a third cabinet next week.”

In the suits they charge DuPont with negligence; concealment, misrepresentation and fraud; strict liability and defective product, failure to warn and conspiracy; unfair and deceptive practices, negligence per se and prima facie negligence; past and continuing trespass and battery; negligent, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress and outrage and punitive damages.

Deitzler said cases will be filed on behalf of people living outside of Wood County and West Virginia, because they allege DuPont, in Wood County, West Virginia, is the source for what made them ill.

Earlier a science panel found probable links between C8 exposure and pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease and medically diagnosed high cholesterol.