Dordrecht, Netherlands – In an interim judgement ruled yesterday by a sub-district judge, chemicals giant DuPont has been found liable for damages suffered by former employees of its Lycra factory in Dordrecht.
DuPont, which divested of its textile brands in a deal concluded in 2004, produced Lycra-branded spandex at its Dordrecht facility between 1964 and 2004. The plant was closed in 2006.
Netherlands’ largest trade union association, FNV, filed a case against DuPont on behalf of 15 former employees who, it is claimed, suffered miscarriages or stillbirths while working in contact with the solvent DMAc.
The judge noted that while DuPont had many measures in place to protect its employees’ health and safety at work, it had done too little to limit the amount of airborne DMAc in the plant. The court also noted that skin contact with the spandex yarn should have been prevented because DMAc was still present in the yarn, and that the company should have better informed its employees of the dangers of working with DMAc.
FNV vice president Kitty de Jong said: ‘Finally we have recognition of the suffering inflicted on these women. It’s an important ruling on safety limits to which DuPont did not adhere.’
The court has yet to rule on compensation. Former employees will have to prove that their miscarriages and stillbirths were a result of working exposure to the solvent. DuPont has three months to appeal the verdict.