Sustained Outrage

Spelter smelter case hits the Supreme Court


This undated file photo provided by Jean Sartoris shows a zinc-smelting operation from Sartoris’ back yard when the plant was still in business in Spelter, W.Va.  AP photo.

The West Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday afternoon in a huge case over pollution of the Harrison County community of Spelter with toxic chemicals from a former zinc smelter.

A local jury previously awarded nearly $400 million in damages against DuPont Co., in a case that has gotten national headlines and fueled all sorts of interest — including that of Gov. Joe Manchin, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking justices to review the verdict.

Briefs in the case are available online here.

And it’s important to note that the court is actually hearing 3 appeals: One by DuPont that seeks a new trial, another by DuPont over a ruling that forced it to cover all potential liability for another of the site’s former owners, and a third filed by nearly 200 property owners who said the trial judge wrongly left them out of the lawsuit.

You can watch the arguments online at the court’s Web site.

Justices have set aside more than two hours for the arguments … so stay tuned.