Ladner v. Dupont


05/24/07 – 06/07/07

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Wrongful death toxic tort claim against Dupont based on a child who died of liver cancer after allegedly being exposed to arsenic and dioxin emitted by Dupont's titanium dioxide pigment plant.

Kerman and Naomi Ladner sued Dupont for the wrongful death of their daughter Haley, who was born with a heart defect, was diagnosed with liver cancer at age 8, and died of liver cancer (hepatoblastoma) in July, 2000, as a result of allegedly being exposed to dioxin and arsenic emitted by Dupont's DeLisle, Mississipi, plant.

According to DuPont the dioxin release did not cause Haley's liver cancer.

The plaintiff presented video showing that Dupont's titanium dioxide plant had been dusty, and the dust tested positive for a lot arsenic and dioxin. Because Dupont had claimed that its plant was not dusty, the plaintiff argued that Dupont had a negligent habit of routinely hiding the truth about the dangers of its TiO2 pigments plants from the public -- both how much Arsenic and Dioxin they were releasing, and how dangerous these chemicals were.

According to the plaintiff, plant manager Aldo Morell had prepared comments for the press indicating that dioxin levels at the plant were low, that the dioxin would not be found in dust, and that the dust clogging an air monitor did not contain dioxin, on the same day that he received an email alerting him to the exact opposite.

The plaintiff argued that Dupont was the biggest dioxin producer in the world, and in the US, and that Dupont's Delisle plant produced 63,000 times more dioxin than any other nearby dioxin producer in the county. The plaintiff's experts showed that the Delisle plant was emitting the dioxin it produced, and that childhood liver cancer was 9-15x higher in zip codes around Dupont.

According to the defense, the substances to which Haley was exposed did not come from the Delisle plant, because the "fingerprints" of the toxins found in the nearby environment did not match the chemicals in the Delisle plant. The defense called the plaintiff's "so-called experts" a "traveling band of professional testifiers," whose testimony was "bad science" and could not be trusted.

The defense argued that the liver tumor had already formed before Haley was born in September, 1991, but that Haley's mother lived 35 miles away from the Dupont plant during the first three months of her pregnancy.

The parties agreed that doctors should have diagnosed Haley's cancer earlier than they did, but their experts disagreed as to whether the cancer would have been operable if discovered earlier.

The jury found by a 9-3 vote that Dupont negligently released dioxin and arsenic, but the releases from the plant did not cause Haley's cancer.


For the Defendants


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7 Chapters
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4 Chapters

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