Associated Press Published

Judge Balks at Proposed Deal in Chemical Leak Suit


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.