Dallas law firm reports $15.5M toxic injury verdict against DuPont in Mississippi

A Laurel, Miss., jury handed down a verdict of $15.5 million on behalf of a man who contracted cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals released from a chemical manufacturing plant operated by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. This was the first trial in a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of more than 2,000 local residents who were injured by emissions from the same plant...

LAUREL, MS, Aug. 29, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- The Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd P.C. has announced a jury verdict of $15.5 million handed down by a Laurel, Miss., jury on behalf of a man who contracted cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals released from a chemical manufacturing plant operated by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. This was the first trial in a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of more than 2,000 local residents who were injured by emissions from the same plant.

Baron & Budd shareholder Allen M. Stewart and attorney Alben N. Hopkins of Hopkins, Barvie and Hopkins PLLC, in Gulfport, Miss., represented Glen Strong and his wife, Connie, in the trial before Circuit Judge Billy Landrum of the 2nd Judicial District Court in Jones County. The firm's Tiffany Newlin Dickenson also represented the Strong family.

The jury's award included $14 million in actual damages awarded to Strong, and $1.5 million to his wife for the emotional distress caused by her husband's injury. The jury was scheduled to consider punitive damages against DuPont on Monday, but arguments were rescheduled for Thursday in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Jurors in the case heard how the DuPont DeLisle plant -- located in Pass Christian, Harrison County -- has been manufacturing titanium dioxide since at least 1979. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in plastics, paints and even food to make products whiter and brighter.

Court documents showed that the process of making titanium dioxide involves the use -- and, in this case, the release into the air and water -- of toxic chemicals. Among others, these toxic chemicals include dioxins, arsenic, chromium and nickel, all cancer causing substances.

In 1998, Strong, a U.S. Army veteran and former Hancock County deputy sheriff, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer. He and his family have lived near the DeLisle plant since 1979. Jurors learned that his cancer forced him to leave his job as a deputy sheriff.

"For the first time, the public got to see what DuPont has known privately for years," says Stewart. "Hopefully, DuPont will stop hiding the truth, and instead start taking responsibility for its actions."

The effects of chemical exposure, such as that experienced by people living in the area of the DuPont plant, include cancer, neurological disorders, immune and reproductive system disorders and birth defects, among others.

The jury of eight men and four women returned the verdict late Friday, Aug. 26. The two-week trial was decided after about two hours of jury deliberations. The case is styled Glen Strong, et al. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, 2005-57-CV3.

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