Mississippi jury unanimously rules for DuPont

Published 3:08 pm Friday, June 6, 2008

A jury Thursday sided with The DuPont Co. in the retrial of a civil lawsuit brought by a man who said dioxins from a plant on the Mississippi Gulf Coast caused his rare blood cancer.

Glen Strong had won a $14 million jury verdict in 2005, but the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned it and a new trial was ordered. The trial began May 22 in Laurel.

Strong declined to comment after the jury’s verdict was announced.

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DuPont attorney Deborah Kuchler of New Orleans said the company repeatedly contended that there was no connection between Strong’s illness and operations at the DeLisle plant.

Strong claimed he ingested dioxin — chemicals that are hazardous even in very small amounts — from the plant through the air and through oysters he ate from the Bay of St. Louis.

The plant is about five miles from Strong’s home in Bay St. Louis. The case was filed and heard in Jones County, more than 100 miles from the coast.

DuPont, based in Wilimington, Del., makes titanium dioxide at the plant. It’s a white pigment used to make paint, toothpaste, plastics and other items.

Kuchler said 850 more claims are pending against DuPont from the DeLisle plant. She said the claims must be addressed one at a time.

“DuPont’s plan is to continue to defend these cases and the safety of its operations,” Kuchler said.

The Supreme Court had also overturned a verdict of $1.5 million issued to Strong’s wife, Connie, for loss of love and companionship.