CHARLESTON — West Virginia residents who filed claims in the water crisis settlement should receive their settlement checks within the next week or so, according to a law firm.
Anthony Majestro of Powell & Majestro said the administrator is finished processing claims and has been waiting for negotiations with Freedom Industries' former president to be completed.
Former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern agreed to a settlement of $1 million to the water crisis victims on top of the $151 million settlement from West Virginia American Water (WVAW) and Eastman Chemical.
"Mr. Southern had previously agreed to settle for $350,000 to settle the claims against him, but the judge didn't believe that was enough," Majestro said in an interview with The West Virginia Record.
The plaintiffs filed a supplemental memorandum in support of expedited motion for final approval of partial class action settlement with Southern on Sept. 1 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
"We expect to hear from the judge this week," Majestro told The West Virginia Record.
Majestro said with the 200,000 checks, Southern's settlement will add approximately 1 percent to each of the settlement checks.
The 2014 chemical spill affected more than 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties.
District Judge John Copenhaver signed the final order in June.
The class action lawsuit alleged WVAW did not adequately prepare for or respond to the chemical spill and that Eastman Chemical, the maker of the chemical MCHM, did not properly warn Freedom Industries of the dangers of its chemical or take any action when officials learned the Freedom facility along the Elk River in Charleston was in disrepair.
WVAW and Eastman both deny any liability and blame the crisis on Freedom Industries.
The total claims filed in the class action totaled more $162 million, meaning the settlements were lowered from approximately a $550 flat payment to $440.
Copenhaver also lowered the amount assessed in attorney fees from 25 percent to 22 percent so that more money will go to the claimants.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Case number: 2:14-cv-01374
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