CHARLESTON – West Virginia American Water has asked a federal judge to let the company participate in a possible class action lawsuit against Freedom Industries when it is filed.
WVAW says it filed the motion so it can protect its right to seek claims.
The motion, which was filed Feb. 4 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, asks federal Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson to let it participate in the class action against Freedom that the plaintiffs' attorney intend to file in federal court.
The water company is seeking the same relief already afford to the plaintiffs so that in can participate and protect its interest in the class action lawsuit once that lawsuit is filed, according to the motion.
"Specifically, WVAWC asks to be permitted to protect its inchoate contribution claims against Freedom that may, under West Virginia law, be extinguished by a settlement between Freedom and the plaintiffs' representatives," the motion states.
Freedom's counsel had agreed in principal for WVAWC to have relief from the automatic stay in order to move to intervene and participate in the class action lawsuit, but Freedom's counsel has refused to endorse an agreed order at this time, according to the motion.
"It is expected that the Unsecured Creditors Committee will also seek relief from the automatic stay to intervene and participate in the class action lawsuit," the motion states. "Because Freedom's counsel has not consented to an agreed lift stay order, WVAWV moves now for relief from the automatic stay--so that it may file an intervention motion and participate in the class action lawsuit as soon as that lawsuit is filed..."
WVAWC claims it is entitled to be reimbursed all money it would have to pay in any claims plaintiffs have against it and, since the water company is being sued for a problem allegedly caused by Freedom, it wants to have the right to assert claims against the company for whatever it may lose in those lawsuits.
The class action will not be filed until there is resolution to an objection by former-Freedom president Gary Southern to the settlement in a previous class action lawsuit against Freedom.
Southern's objection was filed in December and is seeking to have Southern's defense costs paid from an insurance policy.
Southern's attorneys argued that Southern is insured under a policy because of his position as president of Freedom and that he is entitled to coverage benefits.
A preliminary hearing is set for March 4 for WVAWC's hearing.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:14-bk-20017