CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal judge expressed skepticism on Monday about the remaining claims in a lawsuit filed against the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute by 16 Kanawha Valley residents.
U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin said documents filed so far in the case don't appear to him to meet the legal requirements for the residents to pursue their claims.
"There is a requirement for pleading a tort that there be wrongful conduct causing harm," Goodwin said during a hearing this morning. "Wrongful conduct alone won't get it. Harm alone won't get it. You have to have that connection."
Goodwin held a brief status hearing in the wake of Friday's announcement by Bayer that it would not continue a legal fight to try to resume production of the deadly chemical methyl isocyanate at the Institute plant.
Sixteen residents had sued Bayer to block the company from restarting the MIC unit, and on Feb. 10, Goodwin had granted the residents a temporary restraining order. The judge had scheduled a more detailed hearing on the matter to start today to consider whether he would grant a longer-term injunction.
Goodwin called off the preliminary injunction hearing, and entered an order declaring the matter moot because of Bayer's announcement that it would not restart MIC production.
But an amended complaint filed Feb. 14 by Charleston lawyer Bill DePaulo on behalf of the residents also alleges that leaks of "significant, dangerous and noxious chemicals" by Bayer constitute a nuisance. The amended complaint alleges bodily harm, damage to property and economic losses because of Bayer's chemical releases.