DuPont in the dock

The Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd recently announced a jury verdict of $15.5 million on behalf of a man who contracted cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals.


The Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd recently announced a jury verdict of $15.5 million handed down by a Laurel, Mississippi jury on behalf of a man who contracted cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals released from a chemical plant operated by E.I. du Pont de Nemours. This was the first trial in a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of more than 2,000 local residents who were injured by emissions from the same plant.



Baron & Budd shareholder Allen M. Stewart and attorney Alben N. Hopkins represented Glen Strong and his wife, Connie, in the trial before Circuit Judge Billy Landrum of the 2nd Judicial District Court in JonesCounty.



The jury’s $15.5 million award included $14 million in actual damages awarded to Mr Strong, and $1.5 million awarded to his wife for the emotional distress caused by her husband’s injury. The jury was scheduled to consider punitive damages against DuPont on Monday, but arguments were rescheduled for Thursday in response to Hurricane Katrina.



Jurors in the case heard how the DuPont DeLisle plant, located in Pass Christian, HarrisonCounty, has been manufacturing titanium dioxide since at least 1979. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in plastics, paints and even food to make products whiter and brighter.



Court documents showed that the process of making titanium dioxide involves the use, and the release into air and water, of toxic chemicals. Among others, these toxic chemicals include dioxins, arsenic, chromium and nickel, which are all said to be cancer-causing substances.



In 1998, Mr Strong was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer. He and his family have lived near the DeLisle plant since 1979. Jurors learned that Mr Strong’s cancer has forced him to leave his job as a deputy sheriff.



“For the first time, the public got to see what DuPont has known privately for years,” said Mr Stewart. “Hopefully, DuPont will stop hiding the truth, and instead start taking responsibility for its actions.”



The effects of chemical exposure, such as that experienced by people living in the area of the DuPont plant, include cancer, neurological disorders, immune and reproductive system disorders and birth defects.