Potential Legal Repercussions Of West Virginia Chemical Spill

On January 9th, 2014 the residents of West Virginia were treated to a terrible surprise when 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM found its way out of a storage container and into the Elk River. This type of incident brings with it nasty litigation and the folks at Freedom Industries are facing these legal challenges in full force. With potential health risks as well as financial losses due to the shutdown state of the area it’s no wonder that Freedom Industries has already filed for bankruptcy. Currently a total of 19 lawsuits have been filed against the company. So with the above information in mind we have to then wonder what these lawsuits are specifically targeting. Throughout this article I will explore the legal ramifications that happened to Freedom Industries due to its shoddy storage tanks.

Class Action

It goes without saying that these lawsuits are going to be big class action lawsuits as the number of affected business and residents is decidedly large. With this in mind it’s no wonder that all the current lawsuits against Freedom Industries are seeking to be granted Class Action status. Most of these suits claim that West Virginia American Water and Freedom Industries did not act fast enough in alerting the general public to the nature of the chemical leak and its possible consequences. As a result numerous businesses located in Charleston were closed for five days and unable to garner any revenue. Not only did the leak cause unpredictable financial damage but a total of 122 cases had been diagnosed with symptoms that matched up with the ingestion of crude MCHM. This clearly is bad news for both West Virginia American Water and Freedom Industries as the results of the incident are clearly in favor of those filing the lawsuit.

Reckless Negligence

Many of these lawsuits claim that both of the aforementioned companies acted in an unlawful, reckless, and negligent manor when concerning the spill. Freedom Industries maintains that the health and safety of the residents in the affected areas were its “first priority” and that the company had been “working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue.” Such a response is the typical and expected response from any company concerning such a serious matter, regardless of innocence or guilt.

Still cases such as Daniel Cleve Stewart’s truly give you an understanding of how badly this has affected the lives of these citizens. In Daniel’s case he had been waiting for a kidney transplant that had been penciled in for Friday at the CAMC General Hospital but due to the sanitation issues concerning the water the entire procedure was canceled. Daniel is now repeatedly tethered to his dialysis machine at many different periods throughout the day. Just by examining this case it’s clear that the legal issues associated with such an incident are both numerous and financially devastating.

Closing Thoughts

While I doubt that West Virginia American Water will suffer the same fate as Freedom Industries, it’s obvious that they will still suffer a serious financial setback. I do expect that they will win some of their cases as they cannot be held to the same levels of liability as Freedom Industries can.


Eduardo Dieguez is a professional writer for www.RueZiffra.com. Eduardo is a 1st generation American born Cuban that is currently in pursuit of his AA Degree.

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