Class Action News

DuPont Keeps Neoprene Exposure Class Action Federal

Jan. 4, 2019, 5:14 PM

DuPont Co. and the current owner of the last neoprene plant in the U.S. will continue fighting a toxic exposure class action in federal court.

The suit meets the requirements for federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, Judge Martin L.C. Feldman wrote Jan. 3 for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Neighbors of the Pontchartrain Works facility in Louisiana allege the manufacture of synthetic rubber neoprene emits levels of chloroprene well above the upper limit of acceptable risk, resulting in a cancer risk more than 800 times the national average.

Several similar suits filed in state court have been removed to this court.

Juanea L. Butler filed this class action in state court against current plant owner Denka Performance Elastomer LLC, former owner DuPont, and Louisiana on behalf of those who live, work, or go to school within five and a half miles of the plant.

She seeks an order barring Denka from emitting such high levels of chloroprene, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

The court denied Butler’s motion to remand the case, finding it meets CAFA’s three requirements.

The parties are minimally diverse because Butler is a citizen of Louisiana and DuPont is a citizen of Delaware; the class exceeds 100 members because tens of thousands are allegedly affected; and the requested damages will easily exceed the $5 million amount-in-controversy threshold, the court said.

Russell Law Firm LLC in Baton Rouge, La., represented the class.

Jones Walker represented Denka. Kuchler Polk Weiner LLC and Kirkland & Ellis LLP represented DuPont. Oats & Marino represented the state.

The case is Butler v. Denka Performance Elastomer, LLC, 2019 BL 1683, E.D. La., No. 18-6685, 1/3/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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