Parkersburg’s Plight: Chemical similar to Genx found to make people sick

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PARKERSBURG, WV (WWAY) — Was the drinking water in the Mid-Ohio Valley making the community sick? Jack Cottrell thought so. While living beside a DuPont landfill, he suffered several ailments.

“I eventually started to get hives on me,” he said. ” I went to a family physician, and the first thing out of my mouth was, ‘I’ve been poisoned.’”

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Cottrell was one of 12 lead plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against DuPont.

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After settling that lawsuit in 2005, DuPont agreed to pay $70 million to test people in the community to find out if C8 affected the human body.

Dr. Paul Brooks led the collection. Over the course of a year, Dr. Brooks and his team tested nearly 70,000 people in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“When the numbers started coming in, we were doing 350-400 people a day, they got scared, because they knew,” he said. “They knew if we got the numbers, something was going to be found. That’s exactly what happened.”

For the next seven years, the C8 Science Panel studied those samples. It linked C8 to six conditions: high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Based on those findings, DuPont is now required to provide money for medical monitoring for all those under the class action lawsuit. Those in the class action lawsuit are also now able to sue DuPont for harm caused by C8 poisoning.

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In 2015, the first of more than 3,500 cases went to trial. The jury ruled an Ohio woman got kidney cancer as a result of being exposed to C8, and that DuPont knowingly contaminated her drinking water. DuPont was forced to pay $1.6 million in damages.

After two more multi-million-dollar verdicts, DuPont settled 3,550 lawsuits for a lump sum of $670 million.

While Cottrell was one of the lead plaintiffs in the 2001 class action lawsuit, he was not involved in the $670 million settlement.

In late June 2017, doctors diagnosed him with cancer. They said it started in his kidney’s before making its way to his brain. He was given just months to live.

Despite all that has happened and his diagnosis, Cottrell said he doesn’t regret living in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“I never wanted to live to be 90 years old anyways,” he said.

Instead, he still just wants DuPont to be honest about what it’s done.