A North Carolina federal judge granted class certification to a suit claiming the Chemours Co. and DuPont discharged wastewater containing PFAS and GenX chemicals, also known as "forever chemicals," into the Cape Fear River, exposing as many as 100,000 residents to the toxic substances.
The consolidated lawsuit claims that E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and its spinoff business Chemours knew as early as the 1960s that per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds posed risks to human health. That only became clearer to them between 1970 and 2017, the years they operated the Fayetteville Works plant in North Carolina and discharged 17 different types of PFAS into the river, the lawsuit says.
U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III granted certification Wednesday to two classes of downstream residents, those living in the five counties — Bladen, Brunswick, Cumberland, New Hanover and Pender — whose public utility drew from the Cape Fear River, and those whose drinking water came from other groundwater sources tainted with "quantifiable concentrations" of any PFAS produced by the Fayetteville Works. The lead plaintiffs estimate there could be as many as 100,000 class members.
The judge also certified three out of the four subclasses plaintiffs pushed for, rejecting entirely one which sought damages for a theory that their property lost value due to the discharges. While an expert for the plaintiffs attempted to give the court a calculation on average damages, Judge Dever said each property across the five counties would likely see market value swings based on other factors that could not reasonably be controlled for.
. . .
The residents are represented by Theodore J. Leopold, Jay Chaudhuri, S. Douglas Bunch, Douglas J. McNamara and Alison Deich of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Andrew Whiteman of Whiteman Law Firm, Vineet Bhatia, Stephen Morrissey, Jordan Connors and Steven Seigel of Susman Godfrey LLP, Gary W. Jackson of The Law Offices Of James Scott Farrin PC, and Neal H. Weinfield of The Dedendum Group.