Stanley said an effort to file a single class action lawsuit, to represent all people alleging they suffered health problems from slurry pollution, was blocked by Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.
Stanley refused to speculate about how much Massey may have to pay the plaintiffs if they win their lawsuits.
The plaintiffs -- who lived in Rawl, Lick Creek, Merrimac and Sprigg -- allege a coal slurry plant operated by Rawl Sales and Processing, a Massey subsidiary, polluted their well water, beginning in the mid-1980s.
The plaintiffs claim they suffered health problems such as chronic gastrointestinal disorders, skin cancers and major organ cancers.
Many allege they also suffered from developmental disorders from exposure to lead and other toxins when they were children.
The lawsuits claim Rawl Sales pumped more than 1.4 billion gallons of toxic slurry into old underground mine shafts, which ended up poisoning people's wells.
Three years ago, local residents began getting city water from the county seat of Williamson.
A somewhat similar case tried in Harrison County in 2007 ended up awarding about $300 million to 8,500 plaintiffs.
That class action suit -- Perrine vs. E.I. Du Point de Nemours and Co. -- alleged the plaintiffs were harmed by water pollution from a zinc smelting plant.
Even after the West Virginia Supreme Court lowered part of the verdict that provided "medical monitoring" for people who filed suits, total damages awarded were about $300 million.
In the Perrine case, plaintiffs claimed property damages from pollution and sought "medical monitoring" because of the risk of future medical problems.
Unlike the lawsuits filed against Rawl cases, the Perrine lawsuit made no personal injury or wrongful death claims.
The Rawl cases ask for compensatory payments for property damage, serious personal injuries and wrongful death, as well as medical monitoring.
"Several people from the Rawl area have already died," Stanley said. "And other people continue to get sicker and sicker."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.