from FAN Pesticide Project:
(flusilazol), a highly persistent toxic fluorinated pesticide,
was an "undisclosed ingredient in some lots of Benlate
50 DF" (1). According to animal studies (2) and allegiations
by parents exposed to flusilazole (3), this pesticide is
known to induce microphthalmia (undersized eyes) and coloboma,
a defect in the structure of the eye. Eye defects were some
of the major effects of children born to benlate workers
in Florida. Flusilazole is made by DuPont.
Hollingsworth J (1995). Fungicide studies offer little
comfort. Memo: BURIED SECRETS PURSUING A MEDICAL MYSTERY.
December 18. Tampa Tribune (Florida). page 4.
letter from DuPont Researcher proves DuPont knew pesticide
put babies at risk
March 20, 2006, 3:23PM
DuPont Grapples With Legacy of Benlate
By RANDALL CHASE
AP Business Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press
DOVER, Del. — While the DuPont Co. faces lawsuits in several
states regarding the potential health risks of a key ingredient
in producing Teflon, the company has yet to rid itself of the
legal legacy of another controversial chemical.
The Wilmington-based company last year resolved 30 lawsuits involving
Benlate, a fungicide that has been the source of hundreds of lawsuits
alleging plant damage and birth defects, according to a recent
securities filing.DuPont's experience with Benlate cases thus
far could lead it to take a hard line against quick settlements
of pending litigation involving Benlate and those involving perfluorooctanoic
acid, or PFOA, a processing aid used in the manufacturing of fluoropolymers,
which have a variety of product applications, including Teflon-coated
Despite last year's case resolutions, DuPont has scores of Benlate
cases pending, including a crop damage trial that began last week
in Miami. In Delaware, attorneys are submitting briefs to the
state Supreme Court in one of three cases alleging that Benlate
causes birth defects.
"This is the third time we're up before the Supreme Court,"
said Wilmington attorney Robert Jacobs, who is helping represent
the families of eight children from the United Kingdom and New
Zealand who were born without eyes or with abnormally small eyes,
defects also noted in the offspring of laboratory rats exposed
to Benlate. "You cannot say we're not tenacious."
Legal maneuvering also continues in Hawaii,
where plant growers who settled product liability cases against
DuPont in 1994 before learning that the company withheld evidence
of widespread contamination of Benlate have brought racketeering
and fraud charges against DuPont.
"It's been an up-and-down judicial roller coaster, but we
still have our day in court," said David Matsuura, 43, a
former orchid grower who said the Hawaii case could go to trial
in November. "This time, we hope we actually get to go to
Drawing on its experience in the Benlate
cases, DuPont has adopted a more deliberate approach to multiple
lawsuits. The company now uses a holistic strategy that attacks
litigation by broadening its legal approach to include such factors
as the science involved, the cost to the company, and internal
and external communications. The new method is expected to influence
how DuPont confronts the rest of the Benlate cases and its Teflon
"When we first experienced the Benlate claims and litigation,
we had never dealt with a mass tort litigation before," said
DuPont vice president and assistant general counsel Tom Sager.
As a result, Sager said, DuPont in the early stages of the Benlate
litigation tended to give growers the benefit of the doubt and
was perhaps too willing to settle cases too early, encouraging
"It wasn't an open checkbook, but there was not the kind
of discipline and oversight we should have had in place,"
DuPont has since developed a 10-step planning process for complex
litigation that encompasses everything from making sure the attorneys
representing the company are well-versed in product liability
to centralizing decision-making and keeping an eye on costs.
"This is clearly application of lessons learned," said
DuPont spokesman Clif Webb.
DuPont, which last year won a case filed by a Costa Rican fruit
grower who had sought more than $170 million in damages, maintains
Benlate is safe. It says it decided to halt production in 2001
for practical reasons, chiefly the cost of litigation.
Now, the company is facing potentially costly litigation involving
PFOA. Federal lawsuits filed in more than a dozen states allege
that DuPont failed to disclose to consumers that Teflon-coated
cookware can give off harmful gases.
DuPont officials maintain that PFOA does not pose a risk to human
health, and that Teflon cookware is safe.
"If you look at the company's stance
around Benlate, for years they asserted that this doesn't cause
any harm ... but yet they've paid $1.9 billion dollars in litigation
costs," said Sanford Lewis, an attorney representing DuPont
Shareholders for Fair Value, an investors coalition critical of
the handling of concerns about PFOA.
"When you look at the PFOA issue, you see them making the
same kinds of assertions," Lewis said. "If anything,
it looks an awful lot like part of that history repeating."
Another issue shared in litigation surrounding the two products
is concern over how forthcoming DuPont is in sharing information.
DuPont agreed in December to pay $10.25 million in fines and
$6.25 million for environmental projects to settle allegations
by the Environmental Protection Agency that the company kept information
about PFOA from government regulators.
During the course of the Benlate litigation,
at least three judges took the company to task for withholding
evidence from plaintiffs. One judge called the practice "willful,
deliberate, conscious, purposeful, deceitful, and in bad faith,"
and DuPont was ordered to pay millions in court sanctions.
DuPont officials maintain the information the company allegedly
withheld in the Benlate cases was available to plaintiffs. Webb
also noted that while DuPont has about 4,200 lawsuits pending
against it, there have been fewer than 10 instances in the past
13 years in which it has been subject to court sanctions or claims
about not producing documents.
While DuPont lays the groundwork for the Teflon litigation, Sager
said the company plans to "aggressively" defend the
remaining Benlate cases because the plaintiffs do not have science
on their side, or because they are making allegations or settlement
demands "that we could not possibly agree to or accept."
"I don't look for any quick settlements of the remaining
docket," he said.
grower David Matsuura, right, stands with his 15-year-old
daughter Grace as he a holds one of few surviving Oncidium
orchids. as he stands in one of his hot houses in Hilo,
Hawaii Friday, March 17, 2006. Matsuura is one of six
Hawaii plant growers, who settled product liability cases
against Dupont in 1994 before learning that the company
withheld evidence of widespread contamination of Benlate,
and have brought racketeering and fraud charges against
DuPont. Matsuura's daughter was a new born baby when the
problems with the DuPont chemical Benlate began to effect
the Hawaiian growers.
On the Net:
DuPont Co.: http://www.dupont.com
DuPont Shareholders for Fair Value: http://www.dupontshareholdersalert.org