Southeast Texas Record

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Emissions testers claiming chemical exposure settle suit against DuPont

By David Yates | Jan 19, 2010

Dozens of potential jurors went home early on Tuesday, as a couple whose job it was to detect chemical emissions settled their case against E.I. DuPont De Nemours, the company who allegedly exposed them to chemicals.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, Christopher and Jacqueline Bertrand, employees of METCO Non-Destructive Testing Co., claimed they inhaled harmful chemicals and suffered "orthopedic injuries while escaping the toxic DuPont plant."

They were originally scheduled to receive their day in court on Dec. 7, but the case has been reset several times until the parties agreed on a settlement on Jan. 19.

Judge Bob Wortham, who was presiding over the litigation, told the Record the settlement amount was undisclosed.

The case began when the couple filed their suit against DuPont on April 23, 2008, in the Jefferson County District Court.

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, according to the original lawsuit.

"Plaintiffs' hydrogen cyanide monitors detected unsafe levels of the toxin," the suit said. "Defendant was aware of this, yet insisted that Plaintiffs' remain on the job. Furthermore, Defendant failed to provide Plaintiffs with proper training or safety equipment."

In the course of their task, the Bertrands allege that they were exposed to hazardous levels of hydrogen cyanide, nitrobenzene and other dangerous chemicals.

"As a result of their exposure, Plaintiffs suffer from high fever, migraines, respiratory problems, vomiting, blurred vision, serious seizures and other injuries," the suit says.

"Further, Plaintiffs continue to have severe pain and suffering as a result of their injuries. Plaintiffs also suffered orthopedic injuries while attempting to escape the toxic DuPont plant."

The plaintiffs claim DuPont negligently failed to train them and forced them to work in unsafe conditions without essential safety equipment.

The Bertrands were seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, mental anguish and loss of consortium, in addition to compensatory and actual damages.

They are represented by Jason Itkin of the Arnold & Itkin law firm in Houston.

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

Case No. A181-647

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