|BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT|
The following statement explaining and summarizing the Settlement Agreement and the role of the Science Panel established under the Settlement, was prepared jointly by the Settling Parties - the lawyers representing the Plaintiffs and Dupont.
In February 2005, West Virginia Circuit Court approved a class action settlement in a lawsuit about releases of a chemical known as C8, or PFOA, from DuPont's Washington Works located in Wood County West Virginia. The class action settlement has several parts.
One major piece of the settlement was the creation of a Science Panel consisting of three epidemiologists to conduct a community study to assist it in evaluating whether there is a probable link between C8 exposure and any human disease. Epidemiologists are specially trained in the conduct and interpretation of research to evaluate the possible relationships between environmental factors and the occurrence of disease. The parties agreed that epidemiologists were the appropriate specialty to perform the duties required by the settlement agreement. Additionally, though, the settlement allows these individuals to contract with specialists in other fields to assist them in completing their jobs.
Under the rules of the settlement, both parties had to agree to each appointment. After several months of interviews, the parties selected Drs. Savitz, Fletcher & Steenland. None of these individuals have ever worked for DuPont or with Plaintiffs' counsel. Similarly, any other experts selected by the Science Panel to help them must also be independent of DuPont and Plaintiffs and their counsel. To further ensure the independence and impartiality of the Science Panel, the settlement has specific rules about communications between the parties and the Science Panel.
The question put to the Science Panel is whether there is a probable link between C8 and any human disease. A probable link in this setting means that given the scientific evidence available, it is more likely than not that a connection exists between C8 exposure and a particular human disease among class members. The Science Panel is permitted to consider any evidence it believes is relevant to answer this question, but it must include an analysis of two studies. The first is an ongoing study conducted by DuPont of its workers at Washington Works. The second is a community study which the Science Panel must lead.
Another element of the settlement was a $70 million cash payment to Plaintiffs, of which Plaintiffs were to use $20 million to fund community health and education projects. Plaintiffs elected and the court approved use of the entire $70 million to fund a C8 Health Project administered by Brookmar. Brookmar is collecting data from class members through questionnaires and blood testing. This data represents a portion of what the Science Panel will evaluate to answer the question of whether a probable link exists between C8 and human disease.
Different studies with different time frames are required to address different health concerns, with some of the studies estimated to take from 18 to 24 months to complete, and others in the range of 4 years.
Under the settlement agreement, the Science Panel is to deliver its finding to the parties once their analysis is complete. If the Science Panel finds no probable link to any human disease, DuPont's remaining obligations under the settlement agreement cease. If the Science Panel concludes that a probable link exists between exposure to PFOA and any diseases, DuPont will fund a medical monitoring program to pay for medical testing as designed by a separate, yet-to-be selected, independent Medical Panel.