Judge consolidates medical testing in Prenter case

March 7, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

SSP organizer Bobby Mitchell labeling a black water sample from Prenter. Photo from the Sludge Safety Project.

Important news in today from Boone County, where Circuit Judge William S. Thompson has handed residents of the Prenter area a significant legal victory.

Judge Thompson has ruled that residents can bring their legal case seeking medical monitoring related to coal-slurry pollution on a community-wide basis, rather than having to prove the elements of West Virginia’s medical monitoring requirements on a resident-by-resident, one-by-one basis. I’ve posted a copy of the judge’s ruling here, so you can read it for yourself.

These case involves more than 150 households and 361 individuals, but it’s not a class action (very few class actions are brought in West Virginia courts anymore, given that the Class Action Fairness Act sends them to federal courts). Judge Thompson noted evidence presented to him that showed handling the medical monitoring claims on a community-wide basis would cost about $90,000 to litigate, while handling them individually would cost nearly $1.9 million.

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