A circuit judge has dismissed the claims of about 400 victims of a devastating flood in southern West Virginia in 2001.
Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur M. Recht said in last week’s ruling that the plaintiffs who live in the Coal River watershed failed to provide specific enough information about their allegations for the case to proceed.
The victims had claimed in lawsuits that logging and mining operations conducted by coal giants Peabody Energy Corp. and Massey Energy Co. and others exacerbated the damage caused by rising floodwaters.
Estimates set the seven-county tally at $143 million.
Most of the resulting litigation involving thousands of plaintiffs and more than 100 defendants was consolidated and is being heard by the three-judge panel appointed by the state Supreme Court.
Defense lawyer Al Emch says Recht’s ruling could also apply to the roughly 800 residents who live in different watersheds who have filed similar complaints.
“This decision is important,” he said. “It has to have broad implications.”
Information from: The Charleston Gazette,