The pollution case involving a former zinc-smelter site in West Virginia that we wrote about has been settled. DuPont will pay $70 million and will fund a medical monitoring program for area residents. The settlement was presented to Judge Thomas A. Bedell for his approval in November. On January 4th, the judge approved the agreement, saying it passed the fairness test and would end court battles in his court, the state Supreme Court and federal court. Judge Bedell said he only received two objections to the settlement from the 8,500 class-action medical monitoring class members, and the 2,800 property class members.
As we reported last month, the case involved a zinc smelter that operated for 90 years in north-central West Virginia, producing more than 4 billion pounds of slab zinc and 400 million pounds of zinc dust for use in rust-proofing products, paint pigments and battery anodes. By 1971, a toxic waste pile stood 100 feet tall, covering nearly half the 112-acre site. Dust loaded with heavy metals and other toxins often blew into homes in Spelter and other small communities around the site.
This settlement ends the dispute over a 2007 jury verdict that found DuPont liable for creating the waste pile, and that it had deliberately downplayed and lied about possible health threats. Jurors awarded $380 million in punitive damages – an amount the state Supreme Court later reduced to $196 million. The High Court also sent the case back to Judge Bedell, who presided over the jury trial, to conduct a trial over DuPont’s claim that the residents failed to file their lawsuit within legal time limits. A trial had been scheduled for March 2011.
Source: Insurance Journal
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