Lawsuit Over Teflon Health Risks Seeks to Combine Complaints from 16 States
May 10, 2006 — By David Pitt, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa — A lawsuit representing millions of owners of Teflon coated cookware was filed in U.S. District Court, seeking to combine complaints from 16 states into one master case.
The suit, filed Monday in Iowa because of its central location, claims that Teflon manufacturer DuPont Co. failed to disclose possible health risks from using the nonstick cookware. It also claims DuPont continued to tell the government and consumers for years that Teflon was safe even though its own studies showed the material could become toxic when heated at temperatures easily reached when a typical stovetop is set on high.
It asks the court to require DuPont to create a fund for independent research into whether Teflon is harmful; to replace all existing Teflon coated cookware products or pay owners equivalent compensation; to stop making, selling and distributing Teflon coated products; and to provide a warning label or other disclosure about potential harmful effects from using Teflon.
The lawsuit claims DuPont concealed studies that showed that perflourooctanoic acid, also called PFOA or C-8, used in the Teflon manufacturing process releases toxic particulates when heated to temperatures that can be reached during normal use.
PFOA has been determined by the Science Advisory Board for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to likely be a cancer-causing agent in humans.
On May 17, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a subpoena to DuPont requesting documents about PFOA and related compounds, suggesting that the government is considering a criminal case.
Attorneys have estimated the case could cost DuPont as much as $5 billion if it’s successful.
DuPont attorney Adam Hoeflich of Chicago said at an April 20 court hearing that Teflon has a 40-year history of safe use and no studies exist that show the material can become toxic.
The company has agreed to file an answer to the allegations outlined in the lawsuit by June 19.
Hoeflich did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which would allow plaintiff lawyers to argue that they represent potentially millions of consumers who have owned and used Teflon-coated products and seek damages for them all.
DuPont intends to fight class-action certification, Hoeflick has said.
Source: Associated Press