In the decade-long court case William K. Stern, et al. vs. Chemtall, Inc., et al., workers in coal preparation and wastewater treatment sought medical monitoring for the potential increase of neurological problems caused by exposure to hazardous materials used in their jobs.
As part of the $13.95 million settlement, workers can now use a free health monitoring program. About $6 million went to plaintiffs’ attorneys, according to the West Virginia Record. The legal teams decided that the remaining roughly $6 million should be divided equally between the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at Marshall University.
“What we devised was a medical monitoring program where the folks were able to have examinations to see if they had neurological problems,” said Wheeling attorney R. Dean Hartley. “We expected that we would have some money left over, because we didn’t think everybody would take part in the examination process. We had designed into (the settlement) money leftover. What should we do with it? The parties agreed it should be used for neurological research.”
Hartley, along with Charleston attorney E. William Harvit, claims administrator Edward Gompers and Judge David Hummel traveled to the two campuses today to deliver the checks in person.
During the ceremony at West Virginia University, George Spirou, co-director of BRNI, said the money would help advance studies of the human brain.
“We’re developing and using these new technologies,” he said. “So we are going to be a leader – I’m telling you now – we are going to be a leader in human neuroscience.”
The funding will be used at Marshall to tackle health problems specific to residents of rural areas.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.