July 19, 2005
DuPont sued in Teflon class action case
By Matt Daily
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Two Florida law firms said on Tuesday
they had filed class action lawsuits against DuPont Co.,
charging the giant chemicals producer hid the potential health
hazards of its Teflon nonstick cookware coatings.
The lawsuits, the first seeking class action status and
lodged on behalf of consumers of Teflon against E.I. DuPont de
Nemours Co., were filed by Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin PL
and Oppenheim Pilelsky PA in federal courts in several states.
The plaintiffs are calling for DuPont to pay damages to
class members, create a fund for medical monitoring of
consumers who purchased products containing Teflon and put
warning labels on cookware with Teflon.
"The class of potential plaintiffs could well contain
almost every American that has purchased a pot or pan coated
with DuPont's nonstick coating," plaintiff's lawyer Alan Kluger
said in a press statement.
In May, DuPont said it had received a subpoena from the
U.S. Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section to turn
over documents about perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical
used to make Teflon coatings.
That came a month after DuPont agreed to settle allegations
by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency that it had failed
to disclose health data about PFOA for two decades. The company
has set aside $15 million to cover that settlement, which has
not yet been finalized.
DuPont shares registered no impact from the news of the new
suits, trading up 0.6 percent or 24 cents at $43.92 per share
in afternoon dealings on the New York Stock Exchange.
"This is not a surprise to investors," said David
Begleiter, chemicals analyst with Deutsche Bank, who does not
own the stock. "It was a natural evolution of the recent events
at the EPA."
In an e-mail statement, DuPont said it would vigorously
defend itself against the allegations in the lawsuit.
"Consumers using products sold under the Teflon brand are
safe. Cookware coated with DuPont Teflon nonstick coatings does
not contain PFOA," DuPont spokesman Clif Webb said in the
PFOA, also known as C-8, is used in the process of making
Teflon. Tests by 3M Co., the original manufacturer of PFOA,
have shown high levels of exposure to the chemical may cause
liver damage and reproductive problems in rats.
PFOA can remain in humans for up to four years, according
to the EPA, and small amounts of the chemical are found in a
large proportion of the general U.S. public.
In September, Dupont agreed to pay $85 million to residents
in West Virginia and Ohio to settle a lawsuit over the release
of PFOA into the water supply at its Washington Works plant in
(Additional reporting by David Brinkerhoff in New York)