An article in the Delaware News Journal about more than $1 billion in potential liability faced by DuPont quotes Professor Alex Geisinger, an expert on environmental law.
The April 3 articles cites more than 3,500 lawsuits against DuPont for dumping a toxic chemical into the Ohio River and in unlined landfills that is blamed for illnesses among many West Virginians.
The article notes that the separation agreement between DuPont on Chemours, a separate spin-off company it created last year, is complicating the legal battle.
Chemours indemnified DuPont for costs tied to lawsuits involving environmental matters in the separation agreement, yet the article said the new company could collapse under the strain of massive liability payments that could take decades to resolve.
DuPont should structure the indemnification over a long period of time, even if it means recovering less from Chemours, Geisinger said.
"If DuPont is paying millions of dollars to 3,500 individuals and there is no Chemours in its back pocket to pay for that, DuPont is losing in that circumstance," Geisinger said.
With Chemours losing $86 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 – atop smaller losses earlier in the year – the startup has laid off 5 percent of its workforce and announced plans to close and sell some of its plants, according to the article.
"If Chemours is in trouble, a DuPont lawyer will have the possibility of a bankruptcy in the back of their mind, and a Chemours attorney will use the possibility of bankruptcy as leverage with DuPont," Geisinger said. "This is a touchy situation."