CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As lawsuits continue to be filed over last week's Elk River chemical leak, attorneys in the cases say they should be grouped together and referred to the state's mass litigation panel.
At least a dozen lawsuits have been filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court since a chemical leak from Freedom Industries on Thursday caused the loss of water service to thousands of West Virginians.
"We think it's important that the process start sooner rather than later to get everything organized," said Anthony Majestro, one of the attorneys who filed the expedited mass litigation request Saturday.
The lawsuits, which ask to be granted class-action status, have been filed on behalf of businesses forced to shut down during the state of emergency and all West Virginia American Water customers.
Plaintiffs want punitive damages and compensation for lost profits during the state of emergency.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis will decide if the cases meet the mass litigation panel's criteria.
"This is the kind of case the panel was established to deal with," Majestro said. "Instead of having four or five circuit judges, in who knows how many counties, and lawyers doing duplicative work."
On Thursday, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, known as "Crude MCHM," a chemical used in the coal preparation process, was spilled by Freedom Industries, a chemical distributor on Barlow Drive just upriver from the water company's intake.