In a win for the environment, the people of North Carolina and state Attorney General Josh Stein, the Supreme Court of North Carolina has struck down an attempt by chemical company DuPont to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Stein for the company’s role in poisoning the Cape Fear River, WECT reported.
The state’s highest court made its decision on jurisdictional grounds, according to Stein’s office.
“People have to be able to trust that the water they drink is safe. We allege that DuPont and Chemours have dumped forever chemicals into the Cape Fear River – and we intend to hold them accountable for the damage that they’ve caused to the State’s resources. I appreciate and applaud the Court’s decision to let this case move forward,” Stein’s office said in a release.
The state Supreme Court ruled that DuPont “deliberately attempted to restructure their company in a way that reduces their liability” in the state’s lawsuit. The company’s attempt to reduce its liability came as a result of nearly $1 billion in settlements being made against them in other parts of the country – $300 million in West Virginia (related to PFOA discharges) and another $670 million in multidistrict litigation.
According to the court’s opinion, the state brought an action against DuPont de Nemours and Company in 2020 for their use of PFAS in their facilities in North Carolina. After the aforementioned judgments against them, the company restructured to reduce further liability.
The company’s restructuring was extremely convoluted and involved the creation of new business lines, two new companies and a new subsidiary, all in an attempt to skirt their potential monetary responsibilities to North Carolina.
DuPont de Nemours and one of its new spinoff companies, Corteva, argued in their motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the liability shouldn’t fall on them because they are “just holding companies” and not based in North Carolina. The Business Court saw through their charade and denied their motion.
After their motion was denied, DuPont and Corteva appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court affirmed the business court’s decision, allowing the state’s lawsuit against DuPont to continue.