"I had two brain tumors," she said. "One was cut out. The other was treated with radiation. I also have stomach problems. You name it and I had it.
"Everybody in our area had wells," Ooten said. "It was just like any other water, or at least we thought it was. We didn't know that, further on down the line, it would be killing a lot of people."
Ooten, who now lives in Delbarton, had four children who drank well water at their Lick Creek home.
"Every one of my kids has health problems. My kids grew up with that water," she said.
Arthur Dingess Jr., Ooten's 46-year old son, said he has stomach, kidney and skin problems.
"But my problems don't compare to hers," he said.
Lick Creek resident David Joe Molette had open-heart surgery and a kidney transplant.
"My doctors said I was lucky to still be walking around," he said. "They put me on dialysis."
Molette said things improved "after we got city water three years ago."
"My legs still swell up from my medicine and I have diabetes now," he said. "I may have my kidneys taken out."
The lawsuits against Rawl Sales were filed in 2004 before Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.
Later, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis required Thornsbury to recuse himself after learning Thornsbury represented Rawl Sales in earlier blasting litigation in the same areas where coal slurry allegedly contaminated wells.
If settlements cannot be reached in Charleston, the mass litigation panel will send the case to the Ohio County Circuit Court in Wheeling for a trial tentatively scheduled to begin in August.
In 2006, a court injunction required Massey Energy to provide drinking water to local residents until they gained access to clean drinking water from Williamson.
Water lines providing that clean water were completed in April 2007. With help from Rep. Nick Rahall and the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, both D-W.Va., those water lines were financed with money from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.