Freedom's bankruptcy and its limited assets -- it will go out of business completely once it winds up its affairs and cleans up its Elk River site -- may make the entire process moot.
Anthony Majestro, a Charleston attorney who had brought a suit against Freedom, has dropped Freedom as a defendant and is now only suing West Virginia American Water Company.
Majestro predicted that none of the lawsuits filed against Freedom will come to fruition, and any money that comes from the company will come through administrative claims filed in bankruptcy court.
Majestro said that if the lawsuits were allowed to proceed all of Freedom's remaining assets would likely be used for legal fees, leaving nothing for potential payouts.
"Whatever money there is going to be is going to come from the claims process, and that's what you're going to recover from Freedom," Majestro said. "It's unlikely there's ever going to be any litigation."
At Friday's hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Ronald Pearson urged lawyers to work together to come up with a customized claims form that would require uniform documentation when claims are submitted. This would make the claims process more efficient, cutting down on administrative costs and resulting legal fees.
Almost all of the lawsuits that Freedom moved also include West Virginia American Water as a defendant. So, even if the Freedom lawsuits never amount to anything, the shuffling between courts delays the cases filed against the water company.
"It slows down the litigation against the water company," Majestro said. "As of yet, no one has removed cases [from state court] just against the water company."
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.