The Latest: Proposed deal in chemical leak suit, judge balks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Latest on a class-action lawsuit filed in a 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

A federal judge in West Virginia has ordered attorneys in a class-action lawsuit involving a chemical spill that contaminated drinking water in West Virginia in 2014 to revise a tentative settlement.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver in Charleston was critical of the proposed deal Monday. He said he’s concerned it doesn’t make clear that West Virginia American Water Co. won’t seek a rate increase to recoup the costs of settling the lawsuit.

Copenhaver says those costs must be paid by the company’s investors and stockholders, not customers who were spill victims.

Copenhaver ordered the parties to return later Monday.

In January 2014, a tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston leaked chemicals into the drinking water supply for 300,000 people, prompting a tap-water ban for days.

Lawyers for residents and businesses allege the water company didn’t adequately prepare for or respond to the spill.


5 a.m.

A federal judge is expected to hear details of a potential tentative settlement between a water company and plaintiffs who sued over the company’s handling of a 2014 chemical leak in southern West Virginia.

A hearing is set Monday in federal court in Charleston.

Anthony Majestro, who represents plaintiffs in a separate group of state court cases also being settled, had said lawyers for all sides on Friday gave Judge John Copenhaver Jr. the outline of the terms of a potential settlement.

Lawyers for residents and businesses alleged West Virginia American Water did not adequately prepare for or respond to the spill that tainted the tap water of residents in nine counties for days.

Chemical maker Eastman Chemical and plaintiffs’ lawyers reached a proposed settlement Thursday for undisclosed terms.