After settling lawsuit, DuPont turns and sues

David Yates Jul. 7, 2010, 4:54pm

Six months after settling a lawsuit with a pair of chemical emissions detectors who, ironically enough, sued DuPont after being exposed to chemicals, DuPont has turned and sued the company it hired to test its facility.

Over the past few years the Southeast Texas Record has reported on litigation filed by Christopher and Jacqueline Bertrand, employees of METCO Non-Destructive Testing Co., who claim they inhaled harmful chemicals and suffered "orthopedic injuries while escaping the toxic DuPont" Beaumont Works plant.

Court records show DuPont settled with the couple on Jan. 19, agreeing to pay them $300,000 for their alleged damages. DuPont spent an additional $419,567.28 defending the suit.

After settling with the METCO employees, DuPont made a request to METCO and its insurer, Mid-Continent, to reimburse the company for the $719,567.28 spent on the Bertrand litigation, court papers say.

Mid-Continent rejected DuPont's demand and METCO never responded, leading DuPont to file a lawsuit against METCO on June 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

On Feb. 25, 2003, DuPont hired METCO to provide various types of chemical testing at its Beaumont Works facility.

On March 11, 2004, the Bertrands claim they were told to take UT thickness readings from one of DuPont's storage tanks, without being supplied with the proper safety equipment and gear, court papers say.

In the course of their task, the Bertrands allege that they were exposed to hazardous levels of hydrogen cyanide, nitrobenzene and other dangerous chemicals, which caused migraines, respiratory problems, vomiting, blurred vision and serious seizures.

As they were running to escape the plaint, the Bertrands suffered "orthopedic injuries" when they assumingly lost consciousness and fell down a flight of stairs, court papers say.

In its suit against METCO, DuPont accuses the company of breach of contract, asserting the two parties had and "enforceable contract which required METCO to defend indemnify DuPont for claims being made by Christopher and Jacqueline Bertrand."

DuPont further contends the agreement required METCO to have it properly named as an additional insured entitled to coverage under the policy issued by Mid-Continent.

DuPont is represented in part by M.C. Carrington of Mehaffy Weber in Beaumont.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Case No. E187-168

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