An Ashland, Kentucky found E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. to be grossly negligent for a 2004 toxic chemical accident that occurred at the company’s plan in Wurtland, Kentucky and caused several personal injuries.
The jury granted six plaintiffs a total award of approximately $1.3 million in damages for the injuries they suffered because of the release and as punishment for DuPont. The punitive damages were calculated at a rate 10 times the compensatory damages the jury awarded.
The jury’s verdict will set the stage for additional phases of the multiple-stage trial in which claims by another 173 alleged victims will be considered. The jury’s determination that DuPont was grossly negligent and the same punitive multiplier automatically applies to the claims made by all of the additional plaintiffs, meaning that the only remaining issue is whether the remaining plaintiffs should be compensated for their injuries and, if so, how much the award should be.
Court testimony says that in the 2004 incident, a cracked pipe at the plant resulted in a cloud of toxic sulfuric acid being created over a large area of Kentucky. In 1997, a suit was filed against DuPont for a similar incident at the same plant that occurred in 1995.
According to a spokeswoman for DuPont, the company plans to file an appeal. The company claims that the plaintiffs’ alleged problems were not the result of the chemical release.
A number of the plaintiffs in the case are police officer, firefighters, and other emergency personnel who responded to the scene at the time of the leak.