CHARLESTON – West Virginia American Water has reached a tentative deal in the class-action lawsuit against the company over the 2014 chemical spill at Freedom Industries that caused hundreds of thousands of customers to be without water.
The details of the deal were not released and U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr. has rescheduled jury selection for Tuesday.
Eastman Chemical reached a settlement last week. The trial has been pushed back multiple times by Copenhaver, hoping settlements would be reached with all defendants.
The class action lawsuit accuses the water company of not safeguarding the city of Charleston from the chemical spill in the rover that contaminated the drinking water.
After a settlement proposal is submitted to the court, it is subject to review and members of the class can object if they do not agree. Copenhaver will also review the settlement.
There are more than 230,000 residents and business owners included in the class action lawsuit.
Attorneys for the class claimed that West Virginia American Water did not adequately prepare for or respond to the spill and that Eastman, the company who manufactured MCHM, did not properly warn Freedom Industries of the dangers of the chemical.
Nine counties in West Virginia—almost 300,000 residents—were affected by the water contamination when the spill occurred in January 2014. A tank at Freedom Industries had leaked MCHM into the river.
The lawsuits in state court that went to the Mass Litigation Panel have not came as far as the federal class action lawsuit has. Those lawsuits named Freedom as a defendant, while the federal class action does not.
Freedom filed for bankruptcy after the contamination occurred.
Six of Freedom’s top officials plead guilty to criminal Clean Water Act violations related to the chemical spill.
The plaintiffs are represented by Kevin W. Thompson and David R. Barney Jr. of Thompson Barney; Van Bunch of Bonnett Fairbourn Friedman & Balint PC; Stuart Calwell, Alex McLaughlin and D. Christopher Hedges of The Calwell Practice LC.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:14-cv-01374