Lawyers for Plaintiff Carla Bartlett, and likely those for DuPont, were stunned today when DuPont’s first witness unexpectedly stated during cross-examination that high levels of DuPont’s Teflon chemical C8 has been found in his blood, and a spot has been diagnosed on his kidneys, a sign of potential cancer. DuPont is being sued by thousands of individuals who have been diagnosed with DuPont’s Teflon C8 chemical in their blood, who also have been diagnosed with one or more specific forms of cancer, such as kidney cancer.
During today’s trial, DuPont put on its first witness, Paul Bossert. He was a long-time DuPont employee, most recently working as DuPont’s operations director for safety and protection. During cross-examination, Bossert surprisingly admitted to having been diagnosed with high levels of C8 in his blood, and doctors recently discovering a spot on his kidney.
This surprising testimony during cross-examination is in direct contrast to the position Bossert has been taking over the more than decade this litigation has been pending. In 2003, Bossert was reported in the press as attacking studies that were raising concerns about the levels of C8 in the water around the plant he managed from 2000 to 2005. At that time Bossert stated that: “reports claiming residents . . . may have concentrations of C8 in their blood double that of employees who work with the chemical were unrealistic, misleading and could raise unnecessary concern among community residents.”
According to Bossert:
There is absolutely no factual data to support the claim that people living in communities near the Washington Works site would have higher levels of C8 in their blood than would DuPont employees actually working with C8. On the contrary, data from our own employees who live in the community but do not work near C8 confirm that people in the community have levels of C8 in their blood significantly lower than employees who are exposed to C8 in the workplace. The bottom line is that we have factual data that indicate that the highest blood levels are in DuPont employees who work in the C8 area, and we know that there have been no adverse health effects seen in those employees.
In 2005, DuPont settled a class-action lawsuit regarding the presence of the chemical C8 in drinking water that had been contaminated by DuPont’s waste discharge. At the time, DuPont maintained publicly that the chemical was safe, contrary to evidence that has now been produced in the trial showing DuPont’s concerns about the safety of C8 going back for decades.
At the time of the settlement, Bossert said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision and are ready to implement the terms of the settlement.” The terms of the settlement included allowing residents to file claims for injuries that an independent, scientific panel would later conclude were linked to C8. The independent, scientific panel determined that kidney cancer was one type of cancer directly linked to DuPont’s Teflon C8 chemical
Ms. Bartlett is being represented by lead trial counsel Mike Papantonio with the Levin Papantonio law firm.