Owners of Teflon coated cookware in 20 states and the District of Columbia have now joined a lawsuit filed against DuPont Co., asserting that the manufacturer failed to disclose possible health risks from using the nonstick pots and pans.
The latest consumers to join the lawsuit are from West Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona and Nebraska, said attorney Kimberley Baer of Des Moines, who represents Iowans and is serving as a liaison for the other plaintiffs. Cookware owners in the District of Columbia have also joined the case, Baer said.
The lawsuit has been moved by a federal judicial panel to Des Moines, where U.S. Magistrate Celeste Bremer is considering motions.
At a telephone conference on Monday, Bremer asked Baer and other attorneys to file an amended complaint listing all of the plaintiffs and update some of the document’s language by May 31.
Attorneys for the Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont will have 30 days from the date of that filing to answer the allegations.
DuPont attorney Adam Hoeflich of Chicago has said that Teflon has a 40-year history of safe use and no studies exist that show the material can become toxic.
The lawsuit asserts that DuPont knew Teflon could release chemicals that could become toxic when heated at temperatures easily reached when a typical stovetop is set on high. It also claims DuPont continued to tell the government and consumers for years that Teflon was safe even though its own studies showed otherwise.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which would allow plaintiff lawyers to argue that they represent potentially millions of consumers who have owned and used Teflon-coated products and seek damages for them all.
Hoeflich said DuPont intends to fight class-action certification and a document filed Friday countered that the complaints filed in the various states are not identical in their claims and in some cases cite differing state law violations.
DuPont also has asked Bremer to delay information gathering on the facts of the case until after she decides whether to certify the case as class-action.
The plaintiffs filed documents seeking answers from DuPont on 25 questions and sought 52 documents dating to 1938.
DuPont attorneys complained that the requested information is too broad.
“It would require enormous time and effort to identify and produce the documents plaintiffs have requested and to identify the information necessary to answer the interrogatories plaintiffs have presented,” court documents said.
The plaintiffs ask DuPont to identify all the substances used to manufacture Teflon and substances used to attach it to cookware. They ask for the name of any substances that may be emitted when Teflon is heated and a what temperature each is emitted.
They also seek a list of tests, studies or experiments concerning whether Teflon does or may possibly emit any substance when heated.
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