PERRINE V. DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY SETTLEMENT
Below, please find a summary of Settlement milestones for March 2017:
During the month, much was accomplished in carrying out both the Medical Monitoring Program and the Property Clean-Up Program, after timely beginning on November 1, 2011. The Property Clean-up, itself, was completed in June 2016, and in December 2016 the Settlement substantially completed the remaining repairs to remediation impacted properties, Spelter road repairs necessitated by the remediation, and infrastructure improvements approved by the Court. Round 3 of the Medical Monitoring Program (a Round is conducted every two years) has been completed, and the Medical Monitoring Medical Panel was selected by the Court in November 2016.
At the end of February, staffing at the Claims Office was reduced from 3 employees to 2, and all 3 employees received their Court approved severance for serving the Settlement through the completion of the Remediation Program. Based on the Court’s decisions at the February 22, 2017 hearing, described below, the now downsized Claims Office will remain open to handle the final Remediation Fund dividend, also described below.
A. MEDICAL MONITORING PROGRAM
Round 3 of testing began November 1, 2015, and was completed in September 2016. 554 Claimants scheduled appointments in Round 3 of testing. Testing is completed for Round 3, and testing for Round 4 will begin on November 1, 2017.
A quarterly Medical Monitoring meeting was held on February 20, 2017, at the Spelter Fire Station. Attending the meeting was the recently Court-appointed Medical Panel. The Medical Panel has been directed by the Court to provide recommendations as to whether a health study in connection with the Medical Monitoring Program is needed to help update the Program’s testing protocols (see below), and we held an organizational meeting with the Panel for this project on March 8, 2017.
B. PROPERTY CLEAN-UP PROGRAM
Remediation of the Class Area was completed in June 2016, with the Settlement now conducting post-remediation winding-up matters described below.
In December, J.F. Allen, the Zone 1A infrastructure improvements contractor, completed infrastructure improvements associated with the Zone 1A roads, like sidewalks and drains, as well as Zone 1A road repaving.
The approximately $4 Million surplus distribution Fairness Hearing was held on June 22, 2016, at 8:30 a.m., as scheduled. About 50 Claimants attended the hearing and 6 spoke to the Court. An Order was issued by the Court on this matter on July 13, 2016, approving all Spelter infrastructure improvements requested by the Claimants and the payment of the balance to the Claimants as a dividend. The Order is on the website. The resulting dividends were distributed to the Claimants at the Spelter Fire Station on December 14 and 15, 2016. Dividend checks not picked up were mailed to the Claimants on December 16.
A handful of remaining remediation issues and infrastructure improvement issues were addressed by the end of February 2017, with a hearing for two Claimant Remediation Appeals being held for January 31, 2017, and their Appeals being denied in February 2017.
Remaining first dividend distribution issues we project to be addressed by the end of April 2017.
At the end of January, we projected that there is a remaining Remediation Fund surplus of $600,000, initially discussing the matter with the Court and the January 31, 2017 hearing. At the request of the Court, addressing this issue has been expedited. To facilitate the Court’s determination of the best use of these funds, we provided the Remediation Claimants a questionnaire and held town meetings on the issue in February, filing with the Court on February 21, 2017, the resulting Claimant recommendations to the Court on this issue. A preliminary Court hearing on this matter was held on February 22, 2017.
The vast majority of Remediation Claimants voted and advocated that all the remaining Remediation Fund surplus be paid as a dividend to them, though a few suggested that some or all of it be used for the Medical Monitoring Program.
At the hearing, Class Counsel advocated that the Medical Monitoring Program have a health study to help the Medical Panel update testing protocols. DuPont opposed the health study. Class Counsel also suggested that DuPont pay for the health study instead of having the Remediation Fund surplus pay for it. The Claims Administrator estimated that the cost of such a study would be $300,000.
On March 9, 2017, the Court entered a Scheduling Order which first asked the Medical Panel to advise the Court and the Parties if a health study is useful in the revision of Medical Monitoring Program protocols. The next step under the Scheduling Order is for Counsel for the Parties to brief the Court on the utility of such a health study and who should pay for it.
We continued to have weekly update calls with our Birmingham and Spelter staff, focusing on post-remediation issues.
C. ADDITIONAL MILESTONES
Through March 31, 2017, there have been approximately 19,909 telephone calls from Claimants to the Claims Office, and 8,474 Claims Office visits by Claimants.