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Cohen Milstein and Susman Godfrey Help Cape Fear River Residents Win Class Certification in PFAS Toxic Tort Class Action Against Chemours and DuPont

October 5, 2023

COHEN MILSTEIN AND SUSMAN GODFREY HELP CAPE FEAR RIVER RESIDENTS WIN CLASS CERTIFICATION IN PFAS TOXIC TORT CLASS ACTION AGAINST CHEMOURS AND DUPONT

More than 770,000 North Carolinians were exposed to toxic “forever chemicals” in their drinking water while Chemours and DuPont misled officials about toxic material disposal

Cape Fear, N.C. – A federal judge granted class certification to over 100,000 of North Carolina residents who allege that The Chemours Company (Chemours) and DuPont Chemical (DuPont) illegally discharged toxic wastewater containing PFAS and GenX chemicals, aka “forever chemicals,” from its Fayetteville Works plant into the Cape Fear River, failed to inform residents, failed to inform government officials after learning of its damaging impacts, and continued these harmful practices for decades. The plaintiffs claim that they unknowingly consumed drinking water contaminated with these chemicals, that they now suffer from and face the risk of serious health problems, and that Chemours and DuPont should pay the cost of eliminating the contamination of these PFAS chemicals from their homes.

Since 1980, DuPont and Chemours have discharged massive quantities of toxic PFAS chemicals into the air and water from the 2,000-acre Fayetteville Works plant into the Cape Fear River. Despite internal documents showing it had conducted multiple internal tests that confirmed the toxicity of PFAS and GenX chemicals, DuPont publicly dismissed its own findings, continued dumping, and never disclosed the existence of the toxic waste or the related test results to residents or local utility companies.

“For decades Chemours and Dupont have knowingly endangered the health of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians and caused widespread property damage,” said Ted Leopold, partner at Cohen Milstein and co-lead counsel in the lawsuit. “We are very happy with Judge Dever’s decision to grant class certification to residents along the Cape Fear River impacted by the gross negligence of these chemical companies.”

“Chemours and Dupont have brought enormous damage to people throughout the communities along Cape Fear River by subjecting them to these dangerous PFAS chemicals without notice or consent,” said Steve Morrissey, a partner at Susman Godfrey, who co-leads the case with Mr. Leopold. “Chemours and DuPont sat on this information for years and have continued to shirk full responsibility for their wrongdoing even after it was exposed. We look forward to trial and pursuing justice for the greater Cape Fear River community.”

The Cape Fear River serves as the main source of water for over 100,000 homes in the southeast area of North Carolina, including the City of Wilmington. The affected counties include New Hanover, Bladen, Brunswick, Cumberland, and Pender, and residents of those counties who are served by utilities that use the Cape Fear River as a water source or rely on groundwater contaminated with PFAS are included in the class.

Chemours admitted publicly to discharging GenX, an allegedly “safer” version of PFAS it developed in 2009, into the North Carolina public water supply in June 2017, after a team of researchers from North Carolina State University detected the chemical downriver from the Fayetteville Works plant. In September 2017, the North Carolina Division of Water Resources sought to suspend Chemours’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, citing the company’s years-long misrepresentation and failure to disclose the dumping of PFAS-related chemicals. In 2019, Chemours entered into a consent order with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) relating to its PFAS discharges from Fayetteville Works.

The class action was first brought in 2017 in the Eastern District of North Carolina. In 2018, Cohen Milstein and Susman Godfrey were court appointed Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel. Since filing the case, Cohen Milstein and Susman Godfrey have provided information to DEQ in support of the development and enforcement of the consent order while seeking additional relief through the class action.

More information about the case can be found here.

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About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, handling high-profile and often precedent-setting litigation, including environmental toxic tort litigation. With over 100 attorneys across the country, Cohen Milstein has offices in Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Minneapolis, MN, New York, NY, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Washington, DC.  For additional information please visit www.cohenmilstein.com or call (202) 408-4600.

About Susman Godfrey

Susman Godfrey is a nationwide law firm of 150 trial lawyers. It handles high-stakes litigation in a broad range of practice areas and industries, for both plaintiffs and defendants. Susman’s attorneys are creative in finding the fee arrangement—contingent, flat, hourly, or hybrid—that best suits a client’s case. With a relentless focus on winning at trial, Susman Godfrey has been ranked by Vault as the #1 litigation boutique in America for 12 consecutive years. Visit www.susmangodfrey.com to learn more about our unique approach to winning cases.