BECKLEY – A lawsuit with 79 plaintiffs against American Electric Power Co. Inc. says the company did not protect them from coal waste.
American Electric Power Service Corporation; Ohio Power Company; and Doug Workman were also named as defendants in the suit.
The 79 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit are comprised into four sub-groups, 40 are “working direct claim plaintiffs,” 12 are “non-working direct claim plaintiffs,” nine are “loss of spousal consortium plaintiffs” and 18 are “loss of parental consortium plaintiffs,” according to the amended complaint filed in Raleigh Circuit Court.
The plaintiffs claim the Ohio Power Company owns and operates the General James M. Gavin Power Plant and its associated facilities.
The defendants actively participated in the disposal of the coal waste at the Gavin Landfill and the working direct claim plaintiffs were told they should not worry about the contents or health effects of exposure to coal waste, that coal waste would not hurt or harm them and that it was safe enough to eat, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim on one or more occasions they were told the coal waste was only a mixture of water and lime.
AEP, AEPSC and Ohio Power bid the contracts for the landfill construction and hauling as such low prices that the working direct claim plaintiffs were forced to exercise strict frugality in their daily work at the landfill, including foregoing air conditioning in work vehicles, compelling them to drive hot vehicles with the windows down in warm weather, thus further exposing them to coal waste, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants were more concerned with saving money and remaining on schedule than with the health and safety of the working direct claim plaintiffs.
As a direct and proximate result of the conduct of the defendants, nine plaintiffs died and their beneficiaries suffered sorrow; mental anguish and solace, including loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices, advice, services, care protection and assistance; and will continue to suffer such losses in the future, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants failed to warn, eliminate and protect, claiming that the defendants had a duty to take all reasonable steps to protect the plaintiffs from health and safety hazards.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by J. Zachary Zatezalo, Christopher J. Regan and Laura P. Pollard of Bordas & Bordas; and L. David Duffield and Chad S. Lovejoy of Duffield, Lovejoy, Stemple & Boggs PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Derek Swope.
Raleigh Circuit Court case number: 16-C-533