Following the chemical spill into the Elk River, several lawsuits were filed against not only Freedom Industries, Inc., the chemical company responsible, but also West Virginia American Water Company. Overall, 20 lawsuits have been filed against the water company, with the injured parties claiming that it did not do enough to ensure that their drinking water was safe to use.
American Water Company’s intake facility is just a little over a mile downstream from the Freedom Industries plant that leaked 10,000 gallons of MCHM last month. Although officials have declared the water, used by 300,000 customers, to be safe, many residents are reluctant to do so.
While most of the lawsuits filed against the water company were on behalf of individuals, a few entities were injured parties as well. These included the Town of Buffalo and Desimone Hospitality Services, LLC. The Town of Buffalo sought “significant” amounts of overtime compensation that it had to pay to public safety officials, as well as income and taxes lost from businesses forced to close due to the crisis. Meanwhile, Desimone Hospitality Services restaurants claim to have lost business confidence and goodwill, as well as an undetermined amount of income.
In addition, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the dental office, Falbo & Monday, and 200 dentists and other dental staff whose offices received water from American Water Company. Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of residents forced to flush their water lines due to the spill, yet were forced to pay sanitation fees for disposal to the City of Charleston.
Finally, West Virginia personal injury attorneys filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of individuals who suffered from ill health due to drinking tainted water. In one case, one man suffered such a severe reaction that he needed to be hospitalized.
Many of the lawsuits charge American Water Company with owing a duty of care to the injured parties to maintain “adequate and suitable facilities,” as well as “safety appliances and other suitable devices” in order to provide customers with pure, wholesome water that is not a danger to consumers’ health. The lawsuits argue that American Water Company has breached that duty since the spill one month ago, when the water provided was “adulterated” with 4-methylcyclohexane methanol and other substances that eroded its purity.
In one lawsuit filed by individuals, the injured parties sought damages for injuries, physical and mental pain and suffering, infliction of emotional distress, general aggravation, inconvenience and annoyance, cost and medical bills, as well as attorney’s fees and other relief. In another lawsuit, the injured parties sought damages for injuries, medical bills, expense of disposing of the waste and replacing the water, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, fear, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income, and other expenses. The individuals also sought punitive damages and injunctive relief.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.