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West Virginia Chemical Spill Triggers Wave of Lawsuits

Last week, in Charleston, West Virginia, thousands of gallons of a chemical used to clean coal leaked into a river that provides water to more than 300,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of Charleston residents were without water for more than four days, leading to a shortage in bottled water, as people flocked to the stores for water to drink, cook with, and brush their teeth with. Many people’s daily routines were disrupted, as schools and businesses were forced to close for several days.

The leak was first reported Thursday morning, and was caused by the chemical MCHM leaking through a 1-inch hole in a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries, Inc., a company that supplies products to the coal mining industry. Already, 18 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Co., a water processing plant, which failed to deal with the contamination promptly and had no established procedures to prevent chemicals from getting into the water system.

PRWeb reports that West Virginia residents filed a proposed class-action suit against Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Company, alleging that they endured damage to property, personal injuries, loss of income, and a nuisance because of the water contamination. Restaurants and other businesses whose operations rely on running water are also suing to recover lost income, after the contamination caused them to close for several days. A dialysis patient whose kidney transplant was delayed due to a lack of clean water has filed a lawsuit, as well. The suits are diverse in nature, but almost all name Freedom Industries as the main defendant, accusing the company of negligence and causing a public nuisance.

Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Co. may not be alone in anticipating steep liabilities from the spill. Some lawyers have speculated that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection or other government agencies may become targets if evidence of lax oversight is found.

What to know about chemical spills and toxic tort:

Toxic tort is a type of personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims she has been harmed by exposure to a toxic substance. The toxic substance may come from a variety of sources—a consumer product, a pharmaceutical drug, or, as is the case in Charleston, West Virginia, from drinking water.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries or illness through exposure to a chemical in a consumer product, pharmaceutical drug, in your home, or at your workplace, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the company responsible and seek financial compensation. To learn more, contact us at (404) 816-7374, or visit our website, www.McAleerLaw.com.