The judge recommended that plaintiffs' lawyers and Freedom's lawyers work together to come up with a standardized claim form for people seeking damages from Freedom for things like lost wages and lost business, to try to preserve Freedom from excessive legal costs.
Shortly after that hearing Friday, Freedom began moving the lawsuits filed against it from state court to bankruptcy court.
Attorneys representing creditors wanted more information about the company's insurance coverage at Tuesday's hearing. A bankruptcy trustee appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice questioned financial documents the company produced last week.
Freedom Industries had $16 million in assets and $6 million in liabilities when it filed for bankruptcy last month, according to the financial documents.
Freedom's Etowah facility, where the leak occurred, is valued at about $977,000, Cline said. He said the property was purchased in 2002 with the tanks on it.
In the year before it filed for bankruptcy, Freedom Industries paid more than $6 million to its former owners and to companies affiliated with its current owners, court filings show. These payments to what bankruptcy law calls "insiders" will be closely examined by Freedom's creditors and could be ordered returned to the company if they're deemed improper.
Blackwater LLC, which also is listed as an affiliated company, took more than $1.1 million from Freedom in 2013. Southern testified Tuesday that Blackwater also employs him.
Southern also is president of Enviromine Inc., according to records on file with the West Virginia secretary of state. In 2013, Enviromine took more than $3.8 million from Freedom for "goods/services." Freedom still owes Enviromine more than $1 million in additional payments, filings show.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.