Last Friday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld most of a $381 Million verdict entered against DuPont by a West Virginia state court jury. DuPont, Co., the world's third largest chemical company, was found liable for damages caused by a waste pile DuPont created at a zinc-smelting plant in Spelter, West Virginia.
The Harrison County jury found that DuPont negligently created a 60-acre pile that contained arsenic, cadmium and lead. As a result of the verdict, DuPont had to pay $55.5 million to remove potentially hazardous soil and dust from surrounding homes and businesses, approximately $130 million for medical monitoring of those living near the plant, and $192.2 million in punitive damages. The jury found that DuPont actively tried to conceal the harm they had caused.
I have previously posted about the TCE contamination at the CTS Asheville Mills Gap Facility. One wonders why none of the residents who live near the CTS contamination site in Asheville, NC have taken legal action against CTS. The toxic chemical contamination surrounding the Mills Gap site has caused residents living nearby to have various health problems, and most of them have had to stop using their well water. So far, there has been no clean up of the contamination. One also wonders why the City of Asheville has not called for CTS to clean-up of the area.
The answer as to why no one has sued CTS may be because those harmed by the contamination simply waited too long to act. In North Carolina, there is a 3 year statute of limitations for most tort actions, including negligence claims. This means that someone who has suffered an injury as a result of an individual's or a corporation's negligence has 3 years in which to file a lawsuit. Failing to file a lawsuit before the 3rd anniversary of the injury may be fatal to the claim, and the injured person may be forever barred from recovering for their harms and losses. In some instances, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or put on hold, such as where the injured person first learns of the harm after the statute of limitations has already ran. Either way, CTS should at least pay for the clean up of the Mills Gap site.
If you have been seriously injured or harmed as a result of another's negligence or recklessness, you should speak with an experienced trial attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney early enables your attorney to protect your legal rights from the beginning.
Many people take the "wait and see" approach, hoping that they can negotiate a settlement with the adverse party's insurance company. This is optimistic at best, and naive at worst. Insurance companies have the upper hand in this situation because they know how the system works. They know that individuals do not know the law, and they know that the longer they can string an injured person along, all the while delaying the hiring of an attorney, the more difficult it will be for the injured person to prove their case if they do end up filing a lawsuit. Very often, important evidence disappears with the passage of time. Witnesses' memories fade.
Taking the "wait and see" approach will adversely affect your ability to recover full damages for your harms and losses.