The water company's treatment plant is located about a mile downstream from Freedom's tank farm on Barlow Drive. The lawsuits say the water company should have known what chemicals were being stored nearby.
One suit against the water company was filed on behalf of about 200 dentists and their offices, which were unable to conduct business during the ban.
Another suit against the water company was filed by several fitness centers, restaurants, laundries and hairdressers.
Andy Nason, a bankruptcy attorney in Charleston, said under unusual circumstances, other entities might ask the bankruptcy judge to extend the hold on Freedom's lawsuits to cover them as well.
The other entities being sued could also try to use the bankruptcy to slow down litigation, according to Nason, who is not involved with any current lawsuits against Freedom.
"They may say, well, Freedom Industries is also responsible, so we can't adequately defend ourselves without getting information and records from Freedom," Nason said.
Anyone who files a lawsuit against Freedom during the stay imposed by the bankruptcy court could be subject to sanctions for violating federal law, Nason said. However, relief can be sought during the stay by filing an adversary proceeding, or a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case, Nason said. One was filed against Freedom that way, but has since been dismissed.
"They could file a motion with the bankruptcy court and ask to have the automatic stay lifted so you could at least file your claim in state court," Nason said.Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.