CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Four new lawsuits were filed Thursday against chemical giant DuPont Co. by Parkersburg-area residents who say they were made sick by drinking water contaminated with the toxic chemical C8 from the company's nearby plant.
In their separate lawsuits, residents Roger Dale Martin, Joanna Lynn Lowers, Earl Edgar Frum and Jerry Ray McClain allege that the contamination resulted in cancer and other illnesses that a panel of scientists concluded are linked to C8.
The cases are the first to be filed against DuPont by a team of lawyers, which, nearly a decade ago, forced the company to fund a massive study of C8's health effects and pay for new equipment to remove the chemical from local water supplies.
However, the lawsuits alleged that DuPont knew long before the completion last year of the C8 Science Panel's work that its chemical releases could be making residents sick, but tried to cover up evidence of those potential impacts.
"For at least several decades, DuPont has had knowledge and/or the means of knowledge that the releases and C8 were causally connected with and/or could increase the risk of causing damage to humans and animals, including knowledge of statistically significant findings showing a causal connection between exposure to C8 and physical injuries in humans and animals," the lawsuits allege.
The lawsuits allege that DuPont "withheld, misrepresented, and/or concealed information regarding the releases and C8 exposure" from the public "with the intention to mislead and/or defraud them into believing C8 exposure was not harmful, and to mislead and/or defraud them into continuing to purchase and consume drinking water contaminated with C8."
Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont, said the company had not had a chance to review the new lawsuits, but that the company believes "lawsuits such as these ignore family history and lifestyle choices as a primary cause of health issues and disease in specific individuals.
"DuPont will vigorously defend against any and all such lawsuits not based upon valid science," Turner said in a prepared statement.