Judge Denies Water Crisis Legal Settlement, Asks for Changes

Jul 7, 2017

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal judge in West Virginia has declined to grant preliminary approval of a $151 million settlement of class-action litigation stemming from the January 2014 water crisis, saying he wanted changes made to the deal.

Local news outlets report that Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. issued a 93-page order Thursday, two months after court filings made public terms of the deal with West Virginia American Water Co. and Eastman Chemical.

The proposal would have distributed the money among residents, businesses and other entities like non-profit organizations whose drinking water was contaminated by the chemical spill at Freedom Industries, which affected more than 300,000 people in the Kanawha Valley.

Copenhaver raised concerns about how the terms awarded money, timeliness of the settlements and legal fees.

Both sides can refile an agreement.