Through underground injections and an alleged faulty slurry pond, Mingo County, West Virginia’s water has been inundated with a “toxic soup” of heavy metals cumulatively amounting to a volume larger than the BP Oil spill.
Rawl Sales and Processing Co., a subsidiary of Massey Energy, began dumping coal slurry—the substance produced from washing coal—into a local slurry pond in the mid 1970s.
The class action suit began in 2004 and represents 732 clients. Because of the complexities of each individual client (effects on property, health, etc.) the case was relabeled as a consolidated class action suit, and lawyers had to build a case around each individual client.
Two years ago, the judge in charge of the case (Judge Thornsbury) was recused from his duties when it was revealed that Rawl Sales and Processing Co. was a former client of his. A mass litigation panel replaced him and was responsible for last week’s out-of-court settlement two weeks before the case was supposed to go to trial.
The settlement amount has not yet been announced publicly, leaving much to be questioned.