Monday, June 24, 2024

Superior Court rules in favor of AG Stein’s suit to put DuPont’s subsidiaries on the hook for PFAS damages

(Courtesy Port City Daily)

NORTH CAROLINA — A superior court judge put forward an order Wednesday to make DuPont’s subsidiaries liable for PFAS contamination caused by the original company if deemed responsible for damages alleged in a lawsuit filed by attorney general Josh Stein.

READ MORE: Chemours’ fight against GenX health advisory goes to court, holds national ramifications

Stein told PCD a critical part of his 2020 lawsuit against PFAS-producing companies in North Carolina is targeting corporate shell games and “fraudulent conveyances” — the illegal or unfair transfer of property or title — used by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the “Old DuPont” founded in 1802, to avoid accountability for PFAS emissions.

“DuPont sold its interests, its liabilities to Chemous and then created new corporations to try to insulate itself from any liability,” Stein told PCD. 

“Old DuPont” has since spun-off into subsidiaries including Chemours, Corteva, and DuPont de Nemours, or “New DuPont.” Stein alleges Chemours and Old DuPont caused contamination of North Carolina’s air, land, and water through the Fayetteville Works plant’s PFAS discharges; he argues Corteva and “New DuPont” contractually assumed liabilities for Old DuPont’s discharges in the state.

Judge Michael Robinson of the state business court — a specialized forum of the superior court division designated for complex cases involving corporate and commercial law — put forward a motion Wednesday in favor of Stein’s position on subsidiaries’ liability.

Old DuPont acquired the chemical manufacturing Fayetteville Works facility in 1969 and operated it for over 40 years before transferring it to its spin-off Chemours in 2015. After the Environmental Protection Agency found Old DuPont’s PFAS discharges in North Carolina to be potentially hazardous, the agency agreed to a voluntary agreement with the company to replace its PFOA compound with GenX. Years after allowing GenX to proliferate in the Cape Fear River, the EPA found it could be potentially even more toxic than the former chemical.

In his 2020 suit, Stein alleged DuPont and Chemours generated decades of profit from discharging “vast quantities” of PFAS chemicals in the state. He argued the compounds “profoundly disrupted” people’s lives, as studies have linked them to numerous health problems including cancer, ulcerative colitis, decreased fertility, liver damage, thyroid disease, and immune system impacts.

“They knew that GenX was dangerous and they knew they were discharging it into the environment,” Stein told PCD. “They continued to do it for decades, and I brought this lawsuit to make sure that they clean it up and that people have clean drinking water in southeastern North Carolina.”

Stein also spoke in solidarity of EPA’s position in their ongoing legal battle with Chemours over health advisory levels for GenX, but argued the guidelines were not sufficient to protect public health.

“We need Congress to continue to take action to fill in some of the regulatory gaps,” he said. 


Tips or comments? Email journalist Peter Castagno at peter@localdailymedia.com.

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